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D DDD1 0353130 


Certosa of Pavia 












A HISTORY of Milan, under the House of Sforza, 
can hardly incur the charge of being superfluous. 
While Rome, Florence and Venice have each found Eng- 
lish historians, and while fresh books on Renaissance Italy 
appear every day, no English writer has told the story 
of the Sforza as a whole. The scant attention which has 
been given to the history of Milan may be compared 
with the brief visit which the traveller pays to the capital 
jQf Lombardy before he presses on to other Italian cities. 
Yet those who pause to look will find, hidden under the 
bustle of a modern commercial town, numerous relics of 
an age when the Duchy of Milan was deemed the first 
State in Italy. To the student of history the rule of the 
Sforza presents one of the most characteristic examples 
of an Italian tyranny at the time of the Renaissance. 

Only eighty-five years elapsed between the day when 
^Francesco L made himself master of Milan and that on 
^'which his grandson and namesake died childless. Those 
years, however, are among the most vivid in the world's 
history. Six Sforza Dukes in all wielded the sceptre of 
Milan. Of them two, if not three, might be taken as 
representative types of the many-sided Renaissance 
despot. Francesco L, the greatest soldier of his day, 
forms the pre-eminent example of the despot skilled in the 
arts of war, uniting in his person all those qualities which 
make the founder of a State. Lodovico II Moro is no 


less remarkable in his own sphere. As a diplomatist, as- 
an economist and as a patron he proved himself supreme 
in those arts of peace which have won for the Italian 
prince his peculiar place in history. If the peasant con- 
dottiere's son created the Sforza dynasty, II Moro made 
the Court of Milan famous for all time as the home of" 
splendour and of genius. For those, moreover, who 
would not consider the portrait gallery complete if it did 
not include a typical villain, there is Galeazzo Maria. 
Sforza. Round his neck contemporary writers have 
hung as sensational a list of crimes as could well be 

My task in tracing the history of the House of 
Sforza has consisted chiefly in weaving together masses 
of scattered material. While the latest connected history 
of Milan is more than fifty years old, detailed studies of 
certain episodes, illustrated by documents hitherto un- 
known, are constantly appearing both in book form and in 
the chief Italian periodicals, notably the Archivio Storica 
Lombardo. Among those which have been especially 
useful to me are Count Pasolini's well-known monograph 
on Caterina Sforza, M. Pdissier's exhaustive works on 
Louis XI L 's occupation of Milan and the diplomacy 
which preceded it, and articles which have appeared in 
the Archivio Storico Lombardo by Signor Ghinzoni,, 
Signor Verga and others. Such original research as I 
have attempted relates to the period when published 
material is most scanty, namely, to the reigns of the twa 
last Sforza Dukes. The documents which are to be 
found in the Milanese Archives throw light upon the 
position which II Moro's sons held in the Duchy, while 
they confirm the conclusions gleaned from the chance 
references of contemporaries as to the personal character 
of Massiiniliano and Francesco II. Turning to the 



artistic side of the Sforza period, we find a wealth of 
literature, beside which the amount of purely historical 
material seems small. Here I owe much to the work 
of Signor Luca Beltrami, who, by his histories of the 
great monuments of the Duchy, such as the Castello of 
Milan and the Certosa of Pavia, has illuminated one of 
the most important aspects of Sforza rule in Milan. With 
regard to the chapter on " Social Life/' I am conscious that 
the life described is that of the Court rather than that of 
the city. Yet at a time when the Court absorbed all 
the most enlightened elements of society, the mist which 
hid the lives of the masses is hard to pierce. Only at 
rare intervals is the veil drawn aside to reveal the citizens 
of Milan, tenacious, above all else, of the honour and 
independence of their city-State, loyal, therefore, to the 
last to the Sforza Dukes who enhanced the prestige of 
that State while they formed the surest guarantee for its 

In conclusion, I must thank those who have aided me 
personally in my task, most especially Mr. Armstrong, 
both for his help and advice as Editor, and for the assist- 
ance which I have derived from his unpublished notes 
and lectures. My thanks are also due to Conte Fran- 
cesco Malaguzzi-Valeri (Ispettore della Brera) for the 
kindness and courtesy with which he placed his know- 
ledge at my disposal during my visit to Milan, and to 
Mr. Claude Phillips, Mr. C. F. Hill, Mr. Beattie and 
Dr. F. Gatti for allowing me to make use of illustrations 
under their charge or in their possession. 

C. M. A. 

OCKHAM, March, 1907 






V. GALEAZZO MARIA SFORZA (1466 1476) 92 


(14761492) 115 


1498) 142 

VIII. THE FALL OF IL MORO Louis XII. IN MILAN (1498 1507) . 170 

X. FRANCESCO II. LAST OF THE SFORZA (1515 1535) . - - 222 


XII. ART 273 


XIV. CONCLUSION (1535 1859) . . . . , . . .3*2 


APPENDIX ,.......* 333 

INDEX 335 


FRANCESCO SFORZA. Medallion from a Doorway in the Certosa of 

Pavia Frontispiece 



Maria Incoronata, Milan . . . JI 

By permission of the Istitttto d'Arti Grafichi, Bergamo. 

PLAN OF MILAN. Adapted from Verri's " Storia di Milano " . . - 35 

FRANCESCO SFORZA. Medal by Sperandio 60 

DOORWAY OF THE MEDICI BANK. Castello Sforzesco, Milan ... 72 


GALEAZZO MARIA SFORZA. Portrait by Antonio Pollaiuolo, Uffizi Gallery, 

Florence 9 2 

of Dr. F. Gatti, Milan (held to be a sixteenth century reproduction of 
contemporary portraits) IO 7 

SFORZA ARMS, (i) The Viper quartered with the Imperial Eagles; (2) 

The Brush (scopetta). Certosa of Pavia ....'.. 141 


tino, Wallace Collection I 52 

By permission of Mr. W. Heinemarm. 

LODOVICO SFORZA AND BEATRICE D'ESTE. Effigies from Tomb by Cristo- 

foro Solari, now in the Certosa of Pavia 163 

FRANCESCO SFORZA II. AS A CHILD. Portrait by Ambrogio de Predis in 

the possession of W. Beattie, Esq 169 

ASCANIO SFORZA. Fresco ascribed to Luini, Castello Sforzesco, Milan . 191 

MASSIMILIANO SFORZA. Fresco ascribed to Luini, Castello Sforzesco, 

Milan 2 5 

FRANCESCO SFORZA II. Fresco ascribed to Luini, Castello Sforzesco, 

Milan * 28 




by Borgognone ........... 253 

THE CASTELLO SFORZESCO, MILAN. From S. Minister's " Cosmographia " 262 
By permission of the Istitnto d'Arti Graficfai, Bergamo. 


Crlstoforo de Predis, Wallace Collection 277 

THE VIRGIN. Altar-piece by artist of the Lombard School, Pina- 
coteca del Brera, Milan 279 


Predis, Biblloteca Ambrosiana, Milan 286 


National Gallery 312 




(1369 1433) 

IN the little Romagnol town of Cotignola, on 28th May, 1369, 
the founder of the House of Sforza first saw the light 
At that time Milan had not yet become a Duchy, although under 
the joint rule of Bernabo and Galeazzo Visconti, It was fast being 
welded into a State. The Italian soldier of fortune, moreover, 
was not yet a factor in politics. Only in 1379 did the Company 
of S. George, consisting purely of Italians, fight and win its 
first battle against the French mercenaries, who were threaten- 
ing Rome in the interest of the anti-Pope. Hence the birth of 
the fifth son of Giovanni Attendolo excited no interest beyond 
the bounds of Cotignola. None could tell that the boy himself 
would become the chief of Italian condottieri. Still less could 
it be imagined that his son would one day mount the throne of 
Milan. Nevertheless, in the course of the next century both 
these feats were accomplished, and in Francesco Sforza's recog- 
nition as Duke of Milan the Italian soldier of fortune won his 
crowning triumph. During the years that intervened the pe- 
culiar characteristics of the condottiere system were developed, 
chief of which was the desire of every mercenary captain to 
make himself an independent prince. Not only did he need 
a State to support himself and his troops in time of peace, but 
it was the natural instinct of the hired soldier to aspire to the 
position of his employer, in order to become, in the words of 


a chronicler, *' hammer and not arm! n . Thus the par- 

of the Duchy of Milan among his generals, on the death 
of Glae Galeazzo VIscontI, and the dominion which Bracclo won 
for round Perugia, foreshadowed Francesco Sforza's 

acquisition of the most powerful State In Italy. From the 
point of view of the condottiere, it was a triumph. From the 
point of view of the prince, it formed a striking illustration of 
Machiavelli's assertion as to the danger of trusting to mercenary 
arms. If your hired captain is skilful, Machiavelli declares, he 
will always work for his own ends ; while, if he is a bad soldier, 
lie will ruin you in the ordinary way. 

The rise of the House of Sforza from the camp to the 
Duchy is a matter of history. Popular tradition adds a still 
more romantic element to the story by making Muzio Atten- 
dolo of peasant birth. One day, runs the legend, when a troop 
of mercenaries were riding through the flat marshy country 
between Ravenna and Bologna, they came upon a peasant lad 
who was cutting wood near his native town of Cotignola. 
Struck by the boy's appearance, they called out to him to join 
them. He replied by throwing his axe into the branches of 
an adjacent oak : " If it stays, I will go," he cried. " The axe 
stuck in the tree a and Sforza went forth to found a line of 
Dukes/ 1 

As is the fate of all popular stories, the legend of the axe 
has been declared to have no foundation In history. Yet, un- 
like the majority of legends, it Is known to be practically con- 
temporary. As early as 1411, Pope John XXIIL, furious at 
Sforza's desertion of his service for that of King Ladislas of 
Naples, caused his enemy to be depicted hanging from his right 
leg and holding an axe in his hand, while the following lines 
were attached to the picture : 

Io sono Sforza, villano della Cotignola, traditore ; 
Che dodicii tradimenti ho fatto alia 
Chiesa contro lo mio onore. 
Promissloni, capitoli, patti halo rotti. 2 

1 Symonds, J. A., Renaissance in Italy, vol. i. 

s " I am Sforza, peasant of Cotignola and traitor. Twelve times have I be- 
trayed the Church, contrary to my honour. Promises, treaties, compacts have 
I broken," To be hung from the right leg was a traitor's punishment. 


Freely circulated In the camp of Sforza's rival, Braccio, the 
story Is told by three chroniclers of a slightly later date. It was 
also known to the later members of the House of Sforza. When 
Francesco Sforza II. was exhibiting the marvels of the Castello 
of Milan to Paolo Glovio, the Duke remarked with a smile, 
" We owe It all to that famous axe, which our ancestor threw Into 
the branches of a tree, and which, to our good fortune, stayed 
there". There Is, moreover, no inherent Improbability In the 
legend, as many of the most famous condottieri^ Including Car- 
magnola and Picclnlno, were undoubtedly of peasant origin. On 
the other hand, two contemporary biographers of the first Sforza, 
whose account Is followed by Corio, give a version of their hero's 
youth, In which neither the axe nor his low birth occur. Alberico 
da Barbiano, the founder of the Company of S. George, came 
from the village adjoining Cotlgnola. According to these writers, 
the fame of his great neighbour so Inspired young Muzlo that 
he ran away from his father's house when only twelve years old, 
in the hope of winning similar glory. He fell in with some troops 
belonging to a Captain of the Church, Boldrino da Panigale, 
with whom he remained four years. During that time he won 
the notice of his hero, Alberico da Barbiano, who, Impressed by 
the lad's great strength and fiery nature, nicknamed him "Sforza," 
and promised to have him trained as a soldier. When the 
four years were over, Muzlo returned to Cotlgnola to visit his 
parents. This time he was not allowed to leave home empty- 
handed, and his father sent him back to the camp with four 
fully equipped horses, a gift which must have involved con- 
siderable wealth on the part of the donor. 

The recent researches of Professor Gaetano Solieri, In the 
archives of Cotlgnola, 1 have made a strong case for this second 
version of the story. His evidence shows that the Attendoll, 
far from being poor peasants, ranked among the leading families 
of their native town. As early as 1226 an Attendolo acted as 
ambassador for the neighbouring town of Bertinoro, when It 
made its submission to Bologna. Giovanni Attendolo, Muzio's 

1 Prof. Gaetano Solieri, Le Origini e la Dominazlone degli Sforza a CoUgnola. 
Bologna, 1897. UAntica Casa degli Attendoli Sforza in Cotignola. Ravenna, 


ElisaPetimni, who came of a well-to-do citizen 
and It is that her husband's social status was 

very the as her own. When Sir John Hawkwood 

and Cotignola in 1376, the only lands suitable 

for his to Giovanni Attendolo, who consented 

to in exchange for a yearly tribute. Meanwhile 

was occupied with the building of his own family 
mansion, which appears to have been one of the few houses in 
Cotlgnok that were not made of wood. A document of the 
year 1412 records a great fire in the town, which destroyed 
everything "save the church, the house of Sforza, the house of 
Lorenzo Attendolo, and two or three houses near them, which 
did not burn because they were of stone ". Not only were the 
Attendoli comparatively wealthy, but they were also powerful 
and war-like. The peace of Cotignola was constantly broken 
by their feud with the Ghibelline family of Pasolini which 
came to a crisis in 1388, when Bartolo Attendolo and Martino 
Pasolini aspired to the hand of the same young lady. Sforza, 
who was spending the winter at home in condottiere fashion, 
threw himself into the fight that ensued. Two of his brothers 
were killed and he himself was badly wounded. Finally matters 
reached such a pitch that those of the Pasolini who had most 
deeply offended the Attendoli decided to quit Cotignola, while 
those who remained changed their name in order to escape the 
enmity of their rivals. 1 The Attendoli were a numerous race, 
and Elisa Petrocini had no less than twenty-one children, all 
of whom seemed born with a natural aptitude for warfare. 
Fifteen of Muzio's brothers and cousins became soldiers of some 
repute, the most celebrated among them being Micheletto 
Attendolo, who raised the mercenary standard at the same 
time as his cousin. He afterwards won distinction as Captain- 
General of the Venetian forces, in which capacity he fought 
against Francesco Sforza on more than one occasion. With all 
this the Attendoli were rough, even barbaric, in their habits. 
According to Giovio's description, 2 Sforza's home in Cotignola 
was more like a camp than a private house. The walls were 

1 Count Pasolini, Cateritta Sforza, vol. in., Docs. 1-3. 

2 Paolo Giovio, Vita M Sforza, Trad. L. Domenichi, Veneziaj 1558, 


hung with shields, lances and coats-of-mal! instead of with 
tapestries. For beds there were great wooden couches without 
hangings or coverings, upon which a band of soldiers could 
throw themselves. Instead of sitting down to well-cooked 
meals, every one ate standing of such rough food as the men- 
at-arms could prepare. 

In the face of this evidence it seems impossible to maintain 
that the Attendoli were peasants. "Considering their town 
and country," as their own historian Marco Attendolo says, 
they were rich and influential Yet by the side of Braccio, a 
Perugian noble, the native of an obscure townlet in Romagna 
might appear little better than a peasant Sforza's uncouth 
appearance and inability to write so much as his own name, 
seemed to confirm the rumours as to his low birth, which 
were circulated by his enemies. The story of Sforza's peasant 
origin and, according to Solieri, the legend of the axe arose in 
Braccio's camp. On this last point, however, there seems still 
room for doubt. Rough and uncivilised as the Attendoli were, 
there is no great improbability in Muzio being employed, when 
a boy of twelve, to cut wood. The argument that, at that age, 
no one but a mythical hero would have the strength to throw 
an axe into a tree is hardly convincing. There is no reason 
why those who wish to believe the story should not do so, and 
they will find themselves in good company. " Let us keep the 
legend of the axe/ J writes Count Pasolini, 1 the historian of 
Caterina Sforza. " The epic of the Sforza begins with it, and 
I believe it and hope it for the sake of the love that I feel for 
them and for Cotignola." 

For some fifteen years Sforza fought beneath the banners 
of Alberico da Barbiano, side by side with his future rival, 
Braccio da Montone. Braccio was less than a year older than 
Sforza, and it was probably in a burst of boyish affection that 
the two agreed always to wear the same colours and devices. 
Even when Braccio and Sforza became the leaders of rival 
schools of soldiery, this practice was still maintained, until at 
length the difficulty of distinguishing his men from the enemy 

1 In a letter to Prof. G. Solieri. Cf. of. cit., Origini e Dominazione, etc. 


Braccio to adopt a device. Among the great free- 
of the there existed friendships 

individual captains which bore no re- 
lation to the which they fought. Hence the years 
of conflict Sforzeschl and BracceschI never entirely 
the friendship which their leaders had formed as boys. 
When during the Neapolitan Succession Wars Queen Joanna 
of Naples wished to win back Sforza to her side, it was to 
Braceio the task of reconciliation was entrusted. The 
news of Sforza's death came as such a shock to Braccio that 
it some time before he would believe it Genuine grief 
with a presentiment that he would not long survive 
the rival, whose fortunes were so strangely linked with his own. 
These forebodings were fulfilled five months later when Braccio 
met his end over that same siege of Aqiula which had cost 
Sforza his life. 

In 1398 Sforza was able to form a small company of his 
own, and to launch upon an independent career as a mercenary 
captain. At that time Gian Galeazzo Visconti was rapidly 
making himself master of Northern and Central Italy. Perugia 
made a desperate attempt to escape the fate of her sister re- 
publics by taking Sforza into her service, and for two years the 
armies of Milan were kept at bay. When Perugia at length 
bowed beneath Visconti's yoke, the abilities of her defender 
had not escaped Gian Galeazzo's notice. Sforza entered the 
service of Milan with a doubled salary, and only the jealousy 
of the Milanese captains at the favour bestowed upon an in- 
truder prevented him from sharing the final triumphs of Gian 
Galeazzo's reign. As it was, Sforza fled in danger of his life 
to Florence, which had become the final centre of resistance to 
Visconti's advance. While he was engaged in the defence of 
Florentine liberty Sforza made the acquaintance of Lucia Ter- 
zana, who became the mother of four of his sons. On 2jrd 
July, 1401, the eldest of these was born at San Miniato. Hence 
Corio, the Milanese historian, must needs break off from his 
account of Gian Galeazzo's exploits to tell how, beneath the 
banners of the Republic that barred Visconti's path of con- 
quest, the future Duke of Milan made his entry into the 


world. " At that time/* he writes, " the heavens and the earth 
rejoiced at the birth of Francesco Sforza, who made his pos- 
terity illustrious/' 

On the arrival of Rupert III., King of the Romans, in Italy, 
with the intention of humbling his Milanese vassal, Sforza 
headed the Florentine contingent that was sent to his aid. 
Rupert II L soon swelled the ranks of Sforza's admirers, and 
before they parted he granted him the right of bearing his own 
arms, namely, a lion rampant. The citizens of Cotignola had 
already given Sforza the quince (cotignd), which formed the 
device of his native town. Now, at the King's suggestion, the 
lion grasped the quince in his left paw, while with his right 
he challenged all those who should venture to wrest the 
trophy from his grasp. The device was crowned by the Sforza 
helmet, consisting of a winged dragon with a man's head In 
1409 a diamond ring was added by the Marquis of Este to 
commemorate Sforza' s triumph over Ottobuono Terzo, the 
tyrant of Parma. 

After the death of Glan Galeazzo VIsconti, the chief scene 
of Italian warfare shifted from the centre to the south. In 1409 
the Council of Pisa made an attempt to heal the Great Schism 
In the Papacy, with the only result that the number of rival 
popes was increased from two to three. The efforts of the 
various papal claimants to establish themselves In Rome alone 
furnished considerable employment for the condottieri. At the 
same time the prospect of the line of Anjou-Durazzo dying 
out with the present King Ladislas and his sister Joanna pro- 
duced a fresh phase In the interminable Neapolitan Succession 
Wars. From the day that Sforza was first drawn into the 
Neapolitan conflict until the French Invasions at the end of the 
fifteenth century, the affairs of Naples exercised a strong In- 
fluence over the fortunes of his own House. Hence, it seems 
best to explain at the outset the essential features of the 
dynastic dualism which again and again broke the peace of 
the Neapolitan Kingdom. The chief rivals of the Durazzo 
monarchs were their French cousins of the second House of 
Anjou. In 1382 Charles of Durazzo had conquered Naples In 
defiance of the claims of Louis I. of Anjou, and from that time 

8 OF 

the the no opportunity 

for Joanna II. succeeded her 

1414, Louis 111 of Anjou seemed the natural heir 

to the of Naples, In coming to Italy and announcing 

as already, he outstepped his advantage, and 

Alfonso of Aragon as her heir, In 

that lie act as a counterpoise to the pretensions of 

two claimants and their heirs raged all 

the wars of the centnry. The Pope and the Nea- 

who welcomed anything that weakened the 
of the monarchy, fostered this dynastic struggle fay every 
in their power. It was no less acceptable to the con- 
realised their dearest ambitions in the perpetual 
of warfare which It Involved. Sforza had been In the 
of Ladislas at the time of the King's death, and he 
for some years with Joanna II. When, however, 
Louis III. of Anjou entered the arena of Neapolitan politics, 
Sforza seized the opportunity to free himself from a most un- 
desirable mistress. He and Pope Martin V. were responsible 
for the invitation that first brought Anjou to Italy, and on Ms 
Sforza levied war upon the Queen, calling himself the 
Grand Constable of King Louis. Joanna replied by summon- 
ing Braccio and Alfonso of Aragon to her aid. From hence- 
forth Sforza was generally Identified with the cause of Anjou, 
while Braccio posed as the champion of Aragon. In the years 
that followed, the struggle between the rival schools of soldiery 
often obscured the dynastic conflict, which formed the ostensible 
reason for wan Meanwhile Joanna spent the remainder of her 
reign In supporting first one side and then the other as the 
occasion suited her. 

While Sforza was fighting the battles of others he was 
gradually accumulating cities and territories of his own. 
Among his earliest acquisitions was his native Cotlgnola, of 
which he was made Papal Vicar by Pope John XX II I, whom 
he had helped to establish In Rome. In the service of Joanna 
II, Sforza experienced both extremes of fortune. At one 
moment he was loaded with gifts and favours, at the next he 
was disgraced and Imprisoned, On one occasion he owed his 


escape from prison, and probably his life, to the bravery of his 
sister Margherita. Implicated In a conspiracy with Joanna's 
cast-off favourite, Pandolfo cFAiopo, Sforza was thrown Into 
prison, while some Neapolitan nobles went to take possession 
of his Castle of Tricarico. Margherita Attendolo had been 
left in charge of the castle, but instead of yielding it, she rode 
out at the head of such troops as she could muster, and took 
the envoys prisoners. She then kept them as hostages until 
Sforza was set at liberty. Yet with all her fickleness Joanna 
could not long dispense with Sforza's services, and each return 
to her favour added new territories to the condottter^s do- 
minions. These lands were held under different conditions, 
but Sforza's rights usually included the administration of 
justice, and he often exercised all the privileges of an indepen- 
dent ruler. In the archives of Cotignola there are no less than 
four volumes of laws which Sforza framed for the munici- 
pality. 1 All the concerns of the little community are dealt 
with in their pages, which are distinguished throughout by a 
desire to respect local privileges and to protect the citizens 
from the arbitrary rule of subordinate officials. To these 
isolated towns in Romagna and Naples belongs the credit of 
having provided a famous race of rulers with their earliest 
training in the art of government. 

In 1423 the two great condottieri leaders gathered forces for 
their final struggle. By this time Joanna had quarrelled with 
Alfonso of Aragon and was trying to drive him from Naples. 
When Braccio was hurrying to the aid of his patron he found 
his passage barred by the city of Aquila, and he thereupon sat 
down before the walls until the city could be reduced to sub- 
mission. Not long before, Braccio had achieved his long- 
standing ambition of conquering Perugia, and he realised that 
Aquila would form a valuable connecting-link between that 
city and his possessions in the Campagna. Hence no appeals 
from Alfonso could induce him to abandon the siege. The 
result of this obstinacy was to give Sforza a free hand in Naples. 
In January, 1424, Alfonso had been obliged to fly and Sforza 
could muster his full strength for the relief of Aquila. Find- 

1 Solieri, Origini, etc. 

10 OF 

lug forces the river Pescara, Sforza 

at once to ford the stream. While the SforzeschI 

in the act of crossing a violent storm arose, and their 
captain the shore to find that half his troops were still 

the bank. He at once turned back to en- 

for another attempt Daring this perilous passage 
Sforza's favourite page fell Into the river, and In the effort to 
save Sforza too lost his balance. Once the stream had 

engulfed him the strong current made rescue Impossible. The 
captain was never seen again, and his body was -swept 
along by the stream until it reached the sea. For one who had 
spent his life in perpetual conflict it was a strangely appropri- 
ate tomb. 

Contemporary historians describe the first Sforza as a man 
of great height and enormous strength, with a dark skin and 
deep-set blue eyes, half-hidden by his bushy, black eyebrows. 
His harsh voice and rough manners served to emphasise the 
general ferocity of his appearance. Iron discipline prevailed 
in his camp, AH gambling and swearing were forbidden ; a 
soldier who appeared in rusty armour was flogged ; treachery 
and stealing were punished by death. Bracclo once ventured 
to criticise his rival for the pains which he took to spare the 
country people from plunder, whereupon Sforza replied that he 
had never found cause to repent the observance of justice. In 
spite of his severity his soldiers were devoted to the leader, who 
shared all their hardships, and whose courage and talents were 
extolled throughout Italy. " Truly your captain Is far above 
all others of our age, go and tell him so from me," Alfonso of 
Aragon is held to have said to one of Sforza's soldiers whom 
he had taken prisoner. Alfonso's opinion was shared by all 
who came in contact with this chief of condottieri, who, as a 
soldier, was not even surpassed by his more famous son. Yet, 
in the elder Sforza, a soldier's gifts were coupled with a soldier's 
limitations. His whole interest lay in the camp, and this, with 
his hot blood and his want of education, prevented him from 
ever becoming a statesman. Hence to the end of his life he 
fought the battles of others, and he died as he had lived, a 
simple mercenary captain. 




Sforza left behind Mm a large number of children, of whom 
several lived to make their mark In the world, and no less than 
three founded dynasties. Francesco's brother, Alessandro, be- 
came Lord of Pesaro, while his half-brother, Bosio, married the 
heiress of Santa Fiora. The Sforza Counts of Santa Flora sur- 
vived all other branches of the family, and Bosio's descendants 
retained the sovereignty of this little Tuscan State until the 
middle of the seventeenth century. Two more sons, Leone and 
Giovanni, were soldiers of some repute, while Gabriele became 
Archbishop of Milan. Thus the future Dnke of Milan was no 
isolated genius absorbing all the talents of his race, but the 
greatest among a remarkable band of brothers. Francesco's 
mother, Lucia Terzana, was for long Sforza's recognised mis- 
tress, and when motives of ambition prompted the condottiere 
to take a wife, he married Lucia to one of his captains, Marco- 
Fogliano. Hence Francesco's childhood was spent in the 
Fogliano household at Ferrara, where he was educated with the 
children of NIccolo d'Este. When twelve years old he joined 
his father in Naples, and from henceforth his home was the 
camp. Although at the time of Sforza's death Francesco was 
not yet twenty-three, his experience of the world was already 
considerable. He had fought in many battles where his mili- 
tary talents were soon perceived. Through the territories which 
had been bestowed on him by his father's patrons, he had 
gained some knowledge of government. When only seventeen 
he had married a Calabrian heiress, Polissena RufFa, who died 
two years after their marriage, leaving her estates to her hus- 
band. This gave Francesco a certain influence in the district, 
and on Sforza's alliance with Louis of Anjou, his son was sent 
to win the Calabrian nobles to the Angevin cause. Francesco 
was summoned from thence to aid in the relief of Aquila, where 
his father's death left him the acknowledged leader of the 
Sforzeschi. In the confusion which followed Sforza's tragic 
end the young captain showed the greatest self-control. He 
at once rallied the troops and conducted an orderly retreat to- 
wards Naples. Here the sad news was broken to the Queen, 
who, loud In her lamentations at the loss of her captain, decreed 
that all his descendants must bear the name which he had 

iz ' OF 

From henceforth Sforza became the famili 

gradually out of use. 

Bracclo for a moment relaxed Ms ho' 4j 

upon Aqiiila, when the spring came a new army was dfr 

to Its relief. Although an older captain was given 

control of the expedition, the real leader was Francesco 

Sforza, and him lay the honour of the final victory on 

Jane. Throughout the day his black plumes were seen 

In the forefront of the battle, serving as a rally Ing-point 

for his followers. Braccio, despite his mortal wounds, could 

not refrain from expressing his admiration for the young 

general, Francesco had proved himself, said this generous 

antagonist, a true son of his father. His victory at Aquila at 

once placed Francesco upon the pinnacle of military glory. 

Pope Martin V., who had trembled lest the fail of the city 

should leave Rome at Bracclo's mercy, hailed Sforza as his 

deliverer and pronounced him to be the li beloved son of the 

Pope and the Church ". The numerous cmdottieri who had 

part in the battle could not but recognise the superiority 

of Francesco's talents. All Italy competed for his services. 

Among 1 the various competitors was no less a person than 

Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan. During the struggle 

over Naples between Joanna and Alfonso of Aragon, the 

Milanese fleet under Guido Torello had been sent to the 

Queen's aid. Hence it was on the advice of this captain that 

the Duke offered Francesco the command of 1^500 horse and 

300 foot in the armies of Milan. In 1425 the offer was accepted, 

and Francesco embarked upon the first phase of his career In 

the Duchy which he was one day to rule. 

When Francesco Sforza entered his service, the Duke of 
Milan had every need of skilful captains. Since 1412, when 
his brother's death left Filippo Maria sole heir to the Visconti 
dominions, his time had been spent in persistent efforts to recon- 
struct the territory and power that had once been his father's, 
To a certain extent he had succeeded. The Duchy of Milan 
now stretched from the Sesia on the west to the Mincio on the 
east The Swiss had been driven back from Domodossola and 
Bellinzona. By the recovery of Piacenza and Parrna, Visconti 


once more controlled the passage of the Po 3 and could press on 
into Romagna by the highway of the Via ymilia. In one 
quarter Filippo Maria had been even more successful than 
Gian Galeazzo. Genoa had been induced to exchange her 
French Protectorate for that of the Duke of Milan, thus leaving 
Visconti and Florence to vie for the control of the west coast, 
with no buffer state between them. For all this, Filippo If aria's 
^position was in no way equal to that of Ms father. When Gian 
Galeazzo seemed about to control Italy, the only effective 
^resistance came from Florence, Now not only Florence but 
Venice was prepared to oppose the expansion of Filippo Maria's 
dominions. Since the beginning of the centuiy Venice had 
become a mainland power, with a frontier that touched the 
,>uchy of Milan at the Mincio. In 1425 she was persuaded by 
Florence to take the offensive against Visconti as the surest 
means of preventing encroachment upon her existing boundaries. 
The effect of this double pressure was at once to emphasise the 
Internal weaknesses of the Duchy. During the period of con- 
fusion which followed Gian Galeazzo's death, the composite 
character of the Milanese State had been most fully revealed. 
It was held together by a personal tie, and when that bond 
was removed the whole structure fell to pieces. Far from re- 
garding Milan as their capital, the subject towns looked upon 
her as a rival republic who chanced to be subject to the same 
lord as themselves. On the death of Gian Galeazzo there was 
hardly a city that did not set up a local tyrant or break away 
from the Duchy under the leadership of one of Visconti's cap- 
tains. Milan and Pavia alone remained to the Duke's sons, and 
even they rejoiced at the revival of the old system by which the 
younger brother ruled independently at Pavia, thus severing the 
connection between the two cities. Filippo Maria had, indeed, 
reunited the various elements of which the Duchy was com- 
posed. Yet what had happened once might happen again, and 
the process was made easier by the internal factions which 
divided the cities of Lombardy. If one party in the town 
favoured Visconti, the other almost necessarily opposed him. 
While the Ghibelline was bound by tradition to the side of the 
Puke of Milan, the Guelph was prepared to play into the hands 


, - ** j*i * 

of or Into of other rivals to fife supremacy". 

the of the Duke of Milan which Francesco 

for the first time, when he fought Filippo Maria's 
Venice, which he was to realise with a deepen- 
ing persona! Interest as the years went by. 

Sforza served under Visconti's banners through three suc- 
cessive against Venice, During that time he experienced 
to the full the inevitable ups and downs of a cwidottierds career. 
Filippo Maria himself no soldier, and in the absence of a 
chief the quarrels between his captains were apt to 
acute. The older men, such as Pergola and Guido 
Torel3o s Invariably opposed the schemes of the younger and 
adventurous element as represented by Sforza and Niccol6 
Piccialno. At the same time Piccinino was the recognised leader 
of the Bracceschi, and their temporary alliance could not over- 
the hereditary rivalry between himself and Sforza, The 
appointment of Carlo Malatesta as Captain-General of the 
forces did not greatly improve the situation. Although 
the other were wiling to accept his authority^ he 

proved himself, according to Corio's sarcastic phrase, " more 
fitted for peace than for war". With such a leader it is hardly 
surprising that the campaigns of 1426 and 1427 ended in the 
surrender of Brescia and Bergamo to Venice. Francesco Sforza 
also suffered from the suspicions of Filippo Maria, who rivalled 
Louis XL of France in his readiness to think evil of those who 
served Mm. In 1428 Sforza was imprisoned in the Castle of 
Mortara, near Pavia, upon a charge of treachery. Only after 
two years, when Visconti wished to defend Lucca from the 
onslaughts of Florence without openly interfering in Tuscany, 
did he remember his disgraced captain. Sforza was thereupon 
released,- and only nominally dismissed by the Duke, in order 
that he might serve him more effectually. At Lucca fortune 
smiled kindly upon Sforza. After he had contrived to raise 
the siege the citizens proposed to accept him as their lord, while 
Florence offered him a substantial bribe to leave Lucca to her 
fate. Francesco dosed with the latter offer, and retired with his 
troops to Cotlgnola* Thither he was followed by envoys from 
both Florence and Milan, eager to secure his services for the 


fouling war. After prolonged negotiations the prize fell to 
Milan. Whereas Florence only offered a high salary, Fllippo 
Maria promised Sforza the hand of his Illegitimate daughter, 
Blanca Maria, with the prospect of succeeding him upon the 
throne of Milan. From henceforth the consummation of 
this alliance became the goal of Francesco's ambitions, the 
end towards which his whole policy was directed. 

Sforza returned to the service of Milan In time to share In 
the third war against Venice, which was ended In 1432 by the 
coming of the Emperor Siglsmund to Italy. When the Em- 
peror came to Milan to receive the Iron crown of Lombardy, 
the occasion was marked by the betrothal of Francesco Sforza 
to Blanca Maria Viscontl. The eight-year-old bride lived with 
her mother, Agnese del Malno, at Abbiategrasso, and this was 
probably her first visit to Milan. When the ceremonies were 
over Bianca returned to her quiet home, where she must have 
watched with some excitement the vicissitudes through which 
Francesco won his way to her side. For the moment Sforza 
was In high favour with the Duke. At the time of his betrothal 
he was invested with three fiefs In the neighbourhood of Aless- 
andria. A year later he embarked upon fresh exploits In which 
the hand of Visconti is plainly discernible. OiBcIally, Francesco 
received leave of absence for a few months in order that he 
might recover his Neapolitan fiefs, which were slipping from 
his grasp. When he halted, on his way south, to wrest the 
greater part of the March of Ancona from Pope Eugenlus IV., 
it Is clear that he did so with the approval, if not at the instiga- 
tion, of the Duke of Milan. During the recent war Eugenlus 
had shown himself Venetian In sympathy as well as by birth, 
and Viscontl welcomed an opportunity to do him covert injury. 
Hence Sforza's interference In the March seemed, at first, merely 
a repetition of the Lucca episode upon a larger scale. It proved, 
however, to be a turning-point in Francesco's career. From 
that time, although Sforza still served as a mercenary, he had 
also his own battles to fight and his own cities from whence 
to draw men and money. He had ceased to be merely a 
condottiere^ and had entered the ranks of the Italian despots, 



THE March of Ancona, which, formed the chief scene of 
Sforza's activities during the next fourteen years, Is a 
narrow strip of country bounded on the north and south by 
Romagna and the Kingdom of Naples, on the west by the 
Apennines, and on the east by the sea. It has been said 
Koinagna was the centre of the nervous system of Italy, 
and the description Is equally applicable to the March. As 
Romagna, the March of Ancona formed part of the estates of 
the Chtirch s but the weakness of the papal power during the 
exile and schism had enabled local despots to establish them- 
selves In the chief towns of both districts. Unable to over- 
throw these usurpers, the Pope had In many cases saved his 
dignity by making them Papal Vicars of the towns which they 
had mastered. The arrangement found favour with the Italian 
powers, who asked nothing better than to see the March weak 
and divided. For the March, no less than Romagna, was 
essentially a border province a highway between north and 
south. Hence Its destinies were closely watched by each of 
the five States, and the undue preponderance of any one 
Power in that quarter at once aroused the suspicions of the 
other four. When Francesco Sforza first entered the March, the 
whole territory was given over to misrule. The petty despots 
were too weak to be anything but the worst and most tyranni- 
cal of sovereigns. They held their own towns by violence, while 
they sought to obtain those of their neighbours by treachery. 
Perpetual feuds, bad government and oppression wrought 
havoc throughout their dominions. The towns which were 



not subject to a native lord enjoyed nominal liberty under the 
protection of the Church, yet their fate was hardly happier 
than that of their neighbours. Giovanni Vitelleschi, who held 
supreme authority in the March as Papal Legate, had con- 
trived to inspire universal hatred, and in the absence of a 
despot the citizens were more exposed to his cruelty. Hence 
Sforza was welcomed on all sides as, in later years, Csesar 
Borgia was welcomed in Romagna. Where the inhabitants 
did not take the opportunity to throw off the yoke of a local 
tyrant, the ruling families sought Sforza's aid in order to rid 
themselves of VitelleschL Such being the conditions of the 
March, it is not surprising that the years which Francesco 
spent there proved the most troubled in his career. If for ;the 
moment the Italian Powers regarded him as a convenient in- 
strument to use against one another, they soon began to fear 
the rise of a military monarchy under the greatest soldier 
of the day. When they turned against Sforza they could 
reckon upon considerable support from his subjects, of whom 
many were soon as eager to overthrow Francesco's authority 
as they had once been to establish it. Nevertheless, his rule 
in the March gave Sforza experience which he could hardly 
have obtained elsewhere. Here, for the first time, he met the 
princes of Italy upon terms of equality. Here he formed 
friendships and alliances which stood him in good stead in the 
years to come. Here, above all, he was so far independent as 
to be able to make his own terms with Visconti and to force 
him to keep his promises. 

With the acquisition of Jesi on 7th December, 1433, Fran- 
cesco obtained his first footing in the March. From thence he 
issued a manifesto, 1 in which he announced himself as the re- 
presentative of the Council of Basel, sent in order to free the 
March of Ancona from the iniquitous rule of Eugenius IV. 
Every city was called upon to dismiss its papal officials with- 
out delay, and to send a deputation of four citizens to Sforza's 
camp to discuss the future government of the province. A 
timely warning was added to the effect that those who con- 

1 Benadduci, G., Delia Signoria di Francesco Sforza, nella Marca, p. 14, 
Tolentino, 1892. 


tinned to pay to the Pope would have to pay twice 

Oer ? those who obeyed the manifesto would at once 

enjoy Sforza's favour and protection. The effect of this pro- 
clamation was instantaneous, and on loth December Sforza 
began what was rather a triumphal progress than a conquest. 
On his march from Jesl ambassadors from the chief cities 
came to offer him their keys. The few places that dared to 
resist were plundered Montolmo, Macerata, Fermo, Recanati, 
Oslmo, one after the other, acknowledged Sforza as their lord. 
On Christmas Day his triumph was made complete by the 
submission of Ascoli, which brought the conqueror to the 
southern frontiers of the province. Vitelleschi, after a vain 
attempt at resistance, betook himself to Loreto, saying that he 
wished to prepare the famous sanctuary for Francesco's com- 
ing. The real object of his visit transpired a few days later, 
when the Papal Legate set sail for Venice taking with him no 
less than sixteen chests filled with the treasures that he had 
robbed from the sanctuary. From thence he made his way 
to Rome, leaving Francesco In undisputed possession of the 

Fortunately for Sforza, Eugenlus IV. was not In a position 
to oust him from his newly won dominions. The armies of 
Milan were already threatening Rome, and a few months later 
the Pope was forced to take refuge In Florence. Hence In 
February, 1434, Sforza was made Marquis of the March and 
Vicar of Fermo, while he was given command of the papal 
armies, with the title of Gonfalonier of the Church. Francesco 
hastened to publish the treaty throughout Ms dominions. 
Thereupon, says the chronicle of Fermo, "the hills of the 
March were seen to shine with fires of joy, Its cities and for- 
tresses were illuminated 7 '. 1 In September Eugenlus revived 
the League of Florence, Venice and the Papacy against Milan, 
and offered the post of Captain- General to Sforza. It was 
with some hesitation that Francesco committed himself de- 
finitely to the cause of VIsconti's enemies. Yet he had already 
offended the Duke of Milan by his treaty with Eugenius, and 
to quarrel with the Pope at this juncture was to Imperil his 
1 Cf. Benadduci, op. at, p, 27, 


position in the March. Hence Francesco became Captain- 
General of the League, and threw himself into the struggle 
against his former colleagues, Piccinino and Fortebracclo. 
Meanwhile the remaining cities of the March were gradually 
recognising Sforza's authority. The inhabitants of Camerino 
rose and murdered all of the ruling family of Varano upon 
whom they could lay hands, while in May, 1435, a wholesale 
massacre of the Chlavelli took place in the church at Fabriano. 
Such conspiracies were generally accompanied by a voluntary 
surrender of the town to Sforza, in order that he might protect 
the rebels from the vengeance of those relatives of the native 
lord who still remained alive. Strong In the possession of a 
legal title, and of considerable local support, Sforza appeared 
to have conquered the March with almost Incredible ease. 
Now, according to Machiavelli's principle, he was to meet with 
one difficulty after another In keeping what he had won. 

In the autumn of 1435 Francesco went to visit his new 
patron at Florence. Here he was received with every mark of 
honour both by the Pope and by Coslmo del Medici, whom Fran- 
cesco probably now met for the first time. While the troops 
performed feats of arms to the delight of the citizens, the seeds 
of a lasting friendship were sown between the condottiere 
leader and the virtual ruler of Florence. Francesco, with that 
curious power of attraction which he appears to have possessed, 
at once convinced the shrewd Florentine that his was no ordin- 
ary personality. From henceforth Coslmo was prepared to 
stake his reputation upon Francesco's ultimate success. In 
the most critical moments of Sforza's career, Coslmo was ready 
with advice and encouragement and often with pecuniary aid 
But for his friend's persistent support it Is doubtful whether 
even Sforza could have won his way to Milan. 

If Francesco could from that time reckon Coslmo del 
Medlciias a friend, he soon discovered a secret enemy in the 
person of Eugenius IV. In September, 1436, Francesco 
narrowly escaped assassination from the hands of Baldassare 
da Offida, Podesta of Bologna. He was, however, warned In 
time to avoid the danger, and to seize the would-be murderer. 
Offida was Imprisoned in the fortress at Fermo, where he was 


killed by a brick which fell, perhaps not wholly accidentally, 
upon his head. Before his death he wrote to Francesco con- 
fessing that he had acted as the Instrument of Eugetilus IV., 
and warning him of the Pope's designs, " My Lord/ 3 wrote 
Offida 5 u there is no man in the world towards whom the Pope 
bears more ill-will than he does to yon. For God's sake, do 
not trust Mm, for he will always do you evil when he can." l 
This testimony was confirmed In the following year, when 
Piccinino's son, Francesco, appeared in the March with an army 
at his back, announcing that he had come to restore the rale of 
the Papacy, and to drive out the usurper. In a proclamation 2 
inciting Sforza's subjects to rebellion, Piccinino informed them 
that he was supported by both the Pope and the Duke of 
Milan, who had " lately become a good and devout son of the 
Church," and that his father Niccol6 Piccinino would shortly 
come to his aid. On Sforza's protest, Eugenius did indeed 
issue a counter-proclamation repudiating Francesco Piccinino's 
action, and expressing his entire confidence in his "beloved 
son Francesco Sforza ". 3 Yet this did not bring with it the 
restoration of the towns that Piccinino had already conquered. 
It was clear that the Pope desired nothing better than to see 
Sforza undone, and that he would seize any opportunity to rid 
himself of his too powerful vassal. 

While Francesco was struggling to maintain his hold upon 
the March, he kept an ever watchful eye upon the proceedings 
of Visconti. In 1437 the elder Piccinino waged war upon the 
League in Tuscany, and the Venetians proposed to create a 
diversion by sending Sforza against Cremona. Their scheme 
was frustrated by Francesco's firm refusal to cross the Po. He 
was willing to fight the Milanese forces in other parts of Italy, 
but he would not invade the territories of his prospective 
father-in-law. The Venetians were naturally angry at such 
unwonted independence on the part of a condottiere whom 
they were helping to pay, and even Cosimo del Medici could 
not prevent a rupture between them and Sforza Neverthe- 

1 Ir* insidie di Papa Eugenia IF. con fro Francesco Sforza accert&te da 
nn document sincrono. Arch. Stor. Lombardo, 1885, p, 750. 
2 Benaddnci, p. 97. 3 Op. dt., p, 99. 


less, Francesco's action stood him In good stead by paving the 
way for his reconciliation with the Duke of Milan. VIsconti 
was delighted at the discomfiture of Venice, and In March* 
1438, he made peace with Florence and Sforza, by a treaty 
from which the Venetians were excluded. More than this, the 
Duke agreed that Blanca Maria's marriage with Francesco 
should take place without delay. Francesco Piccinino was re- 
called from the March, at a moment when he seemed likely to 
conquer the whole province, while VIsconti also promised 
Sforza his support for the expedition which he proposed to 
make In aid of the Angevin cause In Naples. On 4th April 
Francesco wrote In high glee to his brothers, Alessandro and 
.Giovanni, saying that all his business with the Duke of Milan 
had been most satisfactorily settled, and that he hoped In a 
very short time to bring his bride home to the March. 1 Ac- 
cording to Francesco's expectations the wedding would be In 
May, and he Intended to come at once to his own dominions, 
where Blanca would be safe from her father's clutches. For 
the next few weeks the whole province gave Itself up to pre- 
parations for the reception of the bridal pair. The centre of 
Interest lay round the little city of Fermo, the capital of 
Sforza's dominions, and Bianca's future home. Fermo stood 
on a hill some five miles from the modem east coast railway, 
as It runs southward from Ancona. On the crest of the hill 
rose the newly erected Girifalco or fortress, which was now to 
be Improved and adorned for the reception of the bride. Yet 
Fermo alone was not capable of furnishing all that was re- 
quired for the coming festivities. Special officials were ap- 
pointed to visit the other towns of the March In quest of 
<c everything necessary for the saidfesfa". Most varied was 
the list of Sforza's requirements. The officials were to make 
careful inquiries as to the amount of corn, straw, meat and 
poultry that each town could provide. They were to ascertain 
the number of "good beds with all the necessary appurten- 
ances". They were to discover what places could furnish 
cooks and " boys capable of and suitably dressed for waiting, 
or for other more important duties ". Horses, beasts of burden, 

1 Benadduci, p. 115. 


carpenters "with their tools," game, eggs, fresh cheese and 
salted tongue al! were to be sought out and ordered for the 
great occasion. 1 Meanwhile the Inhabitants of every town 
that recognised Sforza's authority were voting money for a 
gift to the bride and choosing representatives to attend the 
festivities at Fermo. 

The expectations that he had raised in the March most 
have added greatly to the bitterness of Francesco's disappoint- 
ment when he discovered that he had been outwitted by the 
crafty policy of the Duke of Milan. Filippo Maria had no In- 
tention of allowing the marriage to take place until he was 
absolutely forced to do so. Once Bianca was married, he 
would lose the bait with which Sforza could always be lured 
to his side. Hence the wedding was suddenly postponed at 
the Duke's orders, and Francesco's chances of winning his 
bride seemed as remote as ever. Visconti's promises of sup- 
port in Naples proved as valueless as those which concerned 
his daughter. The present representative of the Angevin 
cause was Rene, the younger brother of Louis III., who since 
Joanna II. J s death in 1435 had been trying to drive Alfonso of 
Aragon from the Neapolitan Kingdom. He had at first been 
aided by Filippo Maria, and, at Gaeta, the Genoese fleet had 
actually taken Alfonso prisoner, carrying him off as a captive 
to Milan. Here Alfonso succeeded in persuading Visconti 
that, In view of the French claims upon Milan, his interests 
were best served by opposing the French House of An jou in 
Naples. The argument appealed to Visconti, as it was one 
day to appeal to Sforza, and from that moment he secretly 
supported the cause of Aragon. He encouraged Sforza to 
embark upon a Neapolitan expedition, but by once more 
letting Piccinino loose upon the March, he prevented Fran- 
cesco from striking a single blow in Rene's support. Shortly 
afterwards the renewal of the Milanese attacks on Tuscany 
forced the Florentines to recall their condottiere. Francesco 
obeyed the summons, having learned to his cost the worth of 
Visconti's pledges. 

For three years more the old struggle was renewed, years 
1 Benadduci) Docs, Nos. xxvii., xxyiii. 


of hard fighting for Francesco Sforza, and of poverty and un~ 
rest for his over-burdened dominions. Abandoning his scruples 
as to the invasion of Visconti's territories, Sforza threw himself 
Into the war with Milan as Cap tain- General of the Venetian 
forces. The prolonged campaign round Lake Garda during the 
winter of 1439-40 is famous in condottiere annals, and it added 
no less to Sforza's reputation than to that of his antagonist, 
Niccolo Piccinino.- Meanwhile Alessandro Sforza, who acted 
as Lieutenant of the March during his brother's absence, lived 
in hourly fear of a sudden diversion in that quarter on the part 
of the Milanese. Fortifications were repaired and the closest 
watch was maintained throughout the province. Added to 
this, the expenses of Francesco's campaigns fell largely on his 
own dominions. What with the constant demands for men and 
money, the public celebrations of Francesco's victories, and the 
provision of winter quarters for the greater part of his forces, 
there seemed no respite for the distracted March. At last, in 
July, 1441, some relief came. The course of the war in Lom- 
bardy had tended of late in favour of Milan, but the Duke 
realised that successes in the field placed him more entirely in 
the hands of his captains. Piccinino complained that the years 
which .he had spent in Visconti's service had not earned him 
sufficient land for his grave, and he would now be content with 
nothing short of Piacenza. Luigi San Severino demanded 
Novara. Dal Verme had his eye upon Tortona. There 
seemed, indeed, no captain whose hopes were not fixed upon 
some town or castle in the Milanese. Mindful of the fate of 
Milan upon the death of his father, Filippo Maria feared that 
these men would use his declining years to partition his do- 
minions among themselves. In his hour of need he turned 
once more to Francesco Sforza and begged him to act as 
arbiter between Milan and Venice. Thereupon Sforza made 
the draft of a treaty, which included among its terms the cele- 
bration of his marriage with Bianca. This time the slippery 
Visconti had no opportunity of eluding his bargain. Peace 
was signed at Capriana, and the ambassadors, delighted with 
Francesco's tact and moderation, made it their first business to 
ensure him his bride. On 26th October the long postponed 



wedding took place. It had eventually been decided that 
Cremona and Pontremoli should form Bianca's dowry. If 
Fillppo were forced to yield territory to Sforza, he would at 
least choose the towns that he found most difficult to hold. 
Cremona, with Its great fortress on the Po, lay in the debat- 
able land between Venice and Milan, and its acquisition had 
long been the dearest ambition of the Venetians. Pontremoli 
was also a border town, guarding an Important Apennine 
pass, at the point where Milanese territory touched that of 
Florence. Hence the possession of these places would force 
Sforza to act as VIscontf s watchdog against the two powers 
which threatened to encroach upon the Duchy of Milan. In 
consequence of this arrangement Cremona was selected as the 
scene of the wedding festivities. The bride and bridegroom 
met at the Church of S. Sigismondo, outside the town, and from 
thence they made a triumphal entry into Cremona as husband 
and wife. Among the crowds gathered in the city to welcome 
them were some of the principal Inhabitants of the March of 
Ancona, who had been Invited to Cremona at Francesco's 
express orders. Doubtless the gay doings in which they now 
shared were sufficient to compensate them for all former dis- 
appointments. When Francesco became Duke of Milan he 
replaced the church In which he had been married by a new 
and more Imposing building. Here, just a century later (i 540), 
the Cremonese painter, Giulio Campi, finished his altar-piece 
In which Francesco and Bianca appear In the act of being pre- 
sented to the Virgin by S. SIgismondo. Thus, at a time 
when not only Francesco and Bianca but their descendants 
had ceased to reign in Milan, the memory of their wedding day 
lived on in the traditions of Cremona. 

At the date of her wedding Bianca Maria Visconti was 
only seventeen, while Sforza was a hardened soldier of forty, 
who had seen several years of fighting before his wife's birth. 
Although a biographer declares that Bianca, " being a lady of 
great judgment, would have no other husband than Count 
Francesco because of his valour," 1 the two, In all probability, 

1 Sabadino, G., Gynevra de le clave donne. (Scelta di curiositd lettevcwie 
inedite o rare. Dispmsa 223.) Bologna, 1888. 


did not meet between their betrothal In I43 2 and the wedding. 
The alliance had been throughout a matter of politics, yet 
contrary to all appearances, it proved entirely happy. Blanca 
was a well-educated, tactful and good woman. In the words 
of Sabadlno's panegyric : " Her pure nature no less than her 
fair complexion accorded well with her name". She threw 
herself heart and soul into her husband's interests 3 and on more 
than one occasion he profited by her advice. Her great liber- 
ality and her kindly manners added to the popularity which 
she naturally possessed in Milan as the last of the Visconti. 
Hence, in spite of Francesco's occasional infidelities, Sabadino 
can speak without exaggeration of the " inexhaustible matri- 
monial love " which existed between Bianca and her husband. 
Francesco, for his part, had good cause to thank God " for 
having honoured him with a wife who had not her equal in the 
world ". 

The years which followed Francesco's marriage were marked 
by a determined onslaught upon the March of Ancona from the 
combined forces of Milan, Naples and the Papacy. Filippo 
Maria Visconti seldom showed favour to any one without 
repenting of his action, and the fact that he had wedded his 
daughter to Francesco Sforza was enough to produce this fresh 
outburst of hostility. Moreover, Sforza's position in the March 
was far too independent to suit his father-in-law's purposes. 
Hence Visconti made common cause with Alfonso of Aragon, 
who had been steadily gaining ground against Rene, and who 
would now do anything in his power to keep Sforza out of the 
Kingdom until Naples itself had fallen. At the same time 
Eugenius IV. threw off the mask and exchanged his secret 
plottings against Francesco for open hostility. In his desire to 
recover the March he even renounced his traditional Angevin 
sympathies and consented to invest Alfonso's son with the 
Neapolitan Kingdom in return for aid against Sforza. Con- 
fronted by this formidable alliance Francesco was forced to 
devote himself entirely to the defence of his own territories. 
For the next six years he rarely left the March. With Bianca 
at his side Francesco's interests were concentrated upon his 
little State In a way that they had not been before. Thus it is 


only natural that this phase In Sforza's career should be dis- 
tinguished by his relations with the neighbouring despots of 
Central Italy, with whom he was, for the time being, Identified. 
As Lord of the March Francesco came In contact with two 
remarkable personalities who stand out prominently among the 
Italian princes of the century. Sigismondo Malatesta, the 
brilliant and unscrupulous Lord of Rimini, was first Sforza's 
ally and afterwards his bitter enemy. Federico da Montefeltro, 
Duke of Urbino, whom Francesco first knew as an opponent, 
became Ms most loyal supporter and his life-long friend. Both 
Sigismondo and Federico combined the functions of an inde- 
pendent ruler with those of a condottiefe. Both were dis- 
tinguished by a passion for every form of art which bore fruit 
In those two marvels of the Renaissance, the Malatesta temple 
at Rimini and the Ducal Palace at Urbino. Yet here the 
resemblance between them ended. In the variety and bril- 
liancy of his gifts Sigismondo outshone not only Federico but 
Sforza. Nevertheless, his rashness, his inconsistencies and his 
utter want of faith accorded ill with Francesco's patience and 
caution. Perpetual friction marked the period of their alliance 
and they parted in mutual hatred and contempt Federico, 
on the other hand, was a man after Francesco's own heart. 
With his intellectual and artistic tastes went the practical 
ability and sound common-sense that made for success both as 
a soldier and as a ruler. If Federico, the condottiere, drew his 
Inspiration from Sforza, Federico, the despot, had no small 
share in the development of the future Duke of Milan. When 
on his death-bed Francesco looked for some one who would 
aid Bianca and her children to maintain their hold on Milan, 
it was to Federico of Urbino that he turned, begging him to 
show the same staunch loyalty towards the young Duke of 
Milan that he had shown towards his father in the days of 
poverty and adversity in the March of Ancona. 

The alliance between Francesco and Malatesta dates from 
Siglsmondo's marriage with Francesco's daughter Polissena, 
which took place only a few weeks before the wedding at 
Cremona. On their way to Ferrno, in the spring of 1442, 
Francesco and Bianca visited Sigismondo and his wife at their 


Castle of Gradara. Here Sforza's honeymoon was brought to 
an abrept end by the news of Piccinino's appearance in the 
March as Captain-Genera! of the League between Milan, 
Naples and the Papacy. For the next two years Francesco 
and his son-in-law carried on an uphill struggle against the 
armies of the League. Sforza's numerical Inferiority prevented 
him from risking a battle in the open field. He therefore 
divided his troops among some dozen cities, placing each for- 
tress In charge of one of his captains. By this means he hoped 
to form a nucleus for the recovery of the entire province, 
when the opportunity arose. The weakness of this plan lay 
in the reliance which It placed upon the loyalty of Sforza's 
captains. Many of these played their leader false, and, in 
some cases where the troops were loyal, the citizens rose 
against them and handed over their town to the enemy. 
Meanwhile Francesco and Bianca took refuge with Sigismondo 
Malatesta at Fano. When Alfonso of Aragon himself laid 
siege to the town Sigismondo's loyalty was strained to break- 
ing-point, and only lavish bribes, rendered effective by the 
presence of Sforza's troops, prevented him from turning traitor. 
Luckily for Francesco, the Duke of Milan did not wish to see 
him entirely crushed, and when the situation seemed most 
desperate he persuaded Alfonso to withdraw from the March. 
This and the arrival of reinforcements from Florence and 
Venice enabled Sforza to take the offensive. His military 
talents speedily made themselves felt, and before the end of 
1443 he had done much to recover his lost ground. 

Throughout the year 1444 Sforza's star was in the ascen- 
dant. In January Bianca gave birth to a son in the Girifalco 
at Feraio, and the Duke of Milan sent word that he wished the 
boy to be called Galeazzo Maria. This tacit recognition of his 
son as Visconti's heir filled Sforza with hope, and in the tourna- 
ment which followed the christening the Visconti viper was 
quartered for the first time with the Sforza lion. Later in the 
year the elder Piccinino was recalled to Milan to confer with 
the Duke. During his absence Francesco won a great victory 
over his son at Montolmo, which at length forced Eugenius IV. 
to come to terms. In October peace was made by which 


Sforza was confirmed In his title of Marquis and In all his 
former possessions save Osimo, Recanati and Fabriano. Two 
days before this treaty NiccolA Piccinino died in Milan, thus 
freeing Sforza from his most formidable opponent and at the 
same time paving the way for his alliance with Federko da 
Montefeltro. Personal friendship for Piccinino had hitherto 
kept Federlco in the opposite camp, but he now threw himself 
unreservedly into Sforza's cause. The Immediate result of this 
alliance was the acquisition of Pesaro, a possession which re- 
mained to the House of Sforza long after the March of Ancona 
had been lost. Pesaro belonged to Galeazzo Malatesta, from 
whose feeble grasp his cousin Sigismondo had long been trying 
to wrest It. Now Federlco, who acted as Galeazzo's champion 
and adviser, proposed that he should sell the city to Alessandro 
Sforza on condition that he should marry Malatesta's grand- 
daughter, Costanza Varano. According to the humanist 
Filelfo, who, as a native of Tolentino, was well versed in. the 
affairs of the March, the scheme originated through Federico's 
discovery of a romantic attachment between Alessandro and 
Costanza. This accomplished young lady and her brother 
Rodolfo had alone survived the massacre of the VaranI at 
Carnerino In 1435. Since then she had lived with her grand- 
father In Pesaro, and Alessandro probably first met her at 
Gradara, when, as a girl of fourteen, she recited an oration to 
welcome the arrival of Francesco Sforza and his bride. For 
two years Alessandro nourished what he felt to be a hopeless 
passion, until Federico of Urblno, having discovered his secret, 
asked him what he would give if he could make Costanza his 
bride, " I would give her my life," replied Alessandro promptly. 
Thereupon the kind-hearted Duke promised to do everything 
in his power to favour Sforza's suit. 1 With his help the trans- 
action was speedily made. Francesco Sforza furnished the 
necessary funds, and In December, 1444, the wedding took 
place. Soon afterwards Alessandro and Costanza entered 
Pesaro to enjoy a period of married life that proved all too 
brief for their devotion. 

1 Filelfo, F., Vita di Federico di Urbino. MS, inedito. Benadduci. Doc, 
No. Ixxxv, 


His brother's acquisition of Pesaro proved the turning- 
point of Francesco's career in the March. It seemed for the 
moment that his difficulties were overcome, and that he would 
now be able to rule his dominions in peace. Instead of this, 
the Pesaro episode provoked a storm in the March before 
which Francesco was at length forced to succumb. Sigis- 
mondo Malatesta's alliance with Sforza had been prompted by 
the sole desire to obtain Pesaro for himself. Now that he saw 
the prize snatched from his grasp, and Sforza hand-in-glove 
with his bitterest foe, Federico da Montefeltro, Siglsmondo's 
fury knew no bounds. Eager for vengeance, Sigismondo 
turned to Sforza's enemies outside the March. In the spring 
of 1445 the allied forces of Milan, Naples and the Papacy 
opened a fresh attack upon Francesco's dominions, with Sigis- 
mondo Malatesta at the head of the papal troops. Aided 
by Federico of Urbino, Sforza made a gallant attempt at re- 
sistance. Yet Siglsmondo's knowledge of the country and 
local Influence achieved what numerical strength alone could 
not do. One by one Francesco's towns fell away until, In 
October, Sigismondo won his final triumph with the conquest 
of Roccacontrada. The fortress was held to be Impregnable, 
and Its loss deprived Sforza of his only free communica- 
tion with Urbino and Tuscany. Hence Sigismondo returned 
In delight to Rimini, where he ordered Pisanello to cast his 
well-known medal in honour of the victory. One side of the 
medal shows Sigismondo on horseback, pointing to the Mala- 
testa device which figures on the fortress of Roccacontrada In 
the background. He had every reason to be proud of his 
achievement. When the rebellion of Fermo In November 
left Jesi alone In Sforza hands, It was clear that his defeat 
beneath the walls of Roccacontrada, had dealt the final blow to 
Francesco's power in the March. 

While the March of Ancona was slipping from Francesco's 
grasp, events In Lombardy were drawing him steadily towards 
Milan. Filippo Maria made Sforza's troubles In his own 
dominions the occasion for an attack upon Bianca's dowry 
towns of Pontremoli and Cremona. Whereupon Venice, who 
kept an ever-watchful eye upon Cremona, declared war in de- 


fence of the city. When the Venetian forces, under Mlcheletto 
Attendolo, after defeating the Milanese at Casalmagglore, 
crossed the Adda and ravaged the country up to the walls of 
Milan, Vlscontl realised his mistake. He sent piteous appeals 
to Francesco Sforza begging him to overlook the past and to 
come to the aid of his old and blind father-in-law. Sforza 
should be made Captain -General of the Milanese forces, with 
a large salary and with general powers of government through- 
out the Duchy. Francesco's anxiety to accept this offer paved 
the way for a settlement with regard to the March. Bianca's 
eagerness to reconcile her husband with her father ; Alfonso's 
desire to help his Milanese ally ; the death of Francesco's im- 
placable foe, Eugenius IV., all tended in the same direction. 
At length, on 4th August, 1447, Francesco surrendered Jesi 
to the Papacy for the sum of 35,000 florins. Sad at heart 
Francesco went to Pesaro to make his final preparations for 
leaving the province which was no longer his. Here he found 
Alessandro plunged in grief at the loss of his beloved Costanza, 
who had died a month earlier in giving birth to a son. From 
Pesaro Francesco and Bianca set out for Lombardy, halting on 
their way at Cotignola, which was now Francesco's sole pos- 
session In Central Italy. Here news reached them which 
made the loss of the March of Ancona appear but a small 
matter. The said Lord Filippo Maria is held to be dying," 
wrote one of Sforza's friends in Milan, and I fear that before 
you receive this letter , . . he will have passed from this life. 
Therefore, if you receive orders to pause on your journey, do 
not appear to understand them, but pursue your way. 7 ' 1 Others 
wrote telling the same tale, and entreating Francesco to come 
In person to Milan. Once he had arrived, they insisted, half 
the game would he won. On ijth August Filippo Maria 
Visconti breathed his last, and the throne of Milan lay within 
Sforza j s reach. 

The few momentous days in August, 1447, were probably 
the last that any Sforza ruler spent in Cotignola. Nevertheless, 
this cradle of their race was not forgotten by Francesco and, 

sio, L 5 Document* diplomatic* tratti dagli arckivi Milanesi, vol. iii., p. 
584. Milan, 1864. 


his descendants. Frequent letters passed between Cotignola 
and the Dukes of Milan, enabling the citizens to share in the 
events of the Milanese Court and dealing with the various 
crises that disturbed the little community, 1 Ambassadors from 
Cotignola were allowed to travel free of toll to Milan, where 
they were welcomed with all the honour due to " a city that 
has ever been faithful and most dear to the House of Sforza ", 
The inhabitants repaid these marks of favour by a devotion which 
stood the test of adversity. On the collapse of Sforza rule in 
Milan in 1499, a Venetian force was sent to take possession of 
Cotignola. Great was the surprise of the Venetian captain when 
Ms demand for a peaceful surrender was met with the bold 
reply; " The people of Cotignola love the Sforza, as the people 
of Saguntum loved the Romans ". Forgetting their internal 
enmities, the citizens rose as one man and drove the enemy 
from their gates. Once more, in 1513, Cotignola threw off the 
papal yoke and proclaimed Massimiliano Sforza as her Count 
Only after the rebellion had been crushed with a heavy hand 
did the citizens acquiesce in the hard fate that severed them 
from their native rulers* 

Francesco Sforza's rule in the March suggests two questions. 
What, in the first place, was the nature of his authority? 
Secondly, what were the causes of his failure ? With regard 
to the first question, Sforza's authority differed little from that 
of every other Italian despot of the period. When a town fell 
beneath his yoke, the tyrannis was simply imposed upon the 
municipal constitution without any attempt to overthrow or 
supersede it. The normal municipal constitution comprised a 
General Councilor Credenza, only summoned on rare occasions, 
and a magistracy of five, composed of a Consul and four Priors, 
one from each quarter of the city, upon whom fell the real work 
of administration. On the surrender of a town to Sforza his 
commissaries treated with this magistracy as to the terms of 
the capitulations, which were drawn up on the principle of pro- 
tection in return for tribute. The functions of the despot were 
carefully defined from those of the municipality. Each city 
Detained the control of its revenues, paying the appointed 
1 C/1 Solieri, 6r,, Le Origin*, etc. 


tribute in quarterly instalments to Sforza's Treasurer-General 
Although the capitulations usually contained the proviso that 
the dues of the despot should be fixed, this boon was easier to 
secure on paper than in practice. Sforza's constant need of 
money often forced him to demand the tribute in advance and 
also to make special calls upon the pockets of his subjects. 
The town might grumble and petition against these unexpected 
burdens, but if the money were not forthcoming, a Treasury 
official installed himself at the best inn and remained there at 
the expense of the Commune until the required sum was paid. 
Another stipulation of the municipality was that the fortifica- 
tions should be kept up by the despot Yet when a fortress 
was built as a punishment for rebellion its cost fell upon the 
inhabitants, and materials for the Girifalco at Fermo were 
collected throughout the March with promises of payment 
which were too often not fulfilled. The towns of the March 
had for the most part adopted the practice of placing the ad- 
ministration of justice in the hands of a foreign Podesta. With 
the appearance of a despot the Podesta came to be regarded 
as the connecting-link between the city and its lord, and the 
right of appointing him, which belonged nominally to the 
municipality, fell practically into Sforza's hands. The normal 
plan was for Sforza to appoint the Podesta from three men 
chosen by the town, yet he did not scruple to reject all three 
candidates if it suited his purpose. Although Sforza used the 
office of Podesta as a reward for his friends in cases of dis- 
honesty he showed no favouritism. The Podesti who failed 
to pass the scrutiny to which he was subjected al the end of 
his annual term of office met with prompt dismissal. Matters 
of foreign policy, of peace and war, and of commerce lay outside 
the province of the municipal officials and were wholly in 
Sforza's hands. According to the custom of the age, trade 
was subordinated to politics and rebel cities were cut off from 
all commercial intercourse with their loyal neighbours. Com- 
mercial regulations were framed in the interest of the consumer. 
Severe penalties attended the export of grain, and as pro- 
visions grew scarce every effort was made to keep down 
prices. Considering Sforza's double r61e of despot and a 


litre, the personal character of his rule In the March Is cer- 
tainly remarkable. The archives of one town alone contain 
some thirty letters from Francesco. 1 In some he tells of his 
successes in Lombardy, In others he asks for supplies, Some 
deal with a petty quarrel between the town and its neighbour, 
some with the recommendation or dismissal of a Podesta. 
Looked upon as a whole, Sforza's rule, although no less des- 
potic was less barbarous and less capricious than that of the 
local tyrants whom he supplanted. Its worst feature was the 
constant drain which it made upon the resources of the March. 
Yet the rule of the Papacy was quite as burdensome, and 
Sforza, whose lack of funds once forced him to pawn Ms very 
cl' aes to a Jew at Ancona, at least shared the poverty of his 


* Why, then, did Sforza fail ? Some more definite answer 
, than the assertion that circumstances were against him may at 
least be suggested. The Italian despot derived his authority 
from three main sources. Nominally, he ruled by right of a 
legal title bestowed on him by Pope or Emperor. Practically 
his power depended upon a judicious mixture of force and 
popular consent. In Sforza's case no one of these elements 
was altogether lacking, yet all three contained a flaw which in 
the end proved fatal. The legal title alone was always the 
least effective, and it only became valuable as the seal and 
crown of the other two. Sforza's title was rendered peculiarly 
impotent by the fact that it was derived from no far-off Em- 
peror, but from a Pope who had granted it as a momentary 
expedient, and who took the first opportunity to repudiate his 
treaty. The armed forces under Sforza's control might well 
be considered sufficient to hold the March against all enemies. 
Yet these belonged to Sforza the condottiere^ not to Sforza the 
despot They were paid for by supplies from Florence and 
Venice, and must needs be used in their interests. When Sforza 
was fighting in Lombardy and Tuscany, he could not leave an 
adequate force to defend his own dominions. Moreover, the 
large area over which Sforza's operations extended made him 

1 Cf. Valeri, D. G., Delia Signoria di Francesco Sforza nella Marca 
secondo i docutnenti di Serrasanquirico, Arch* Stor. Lomb,, 1884. 


dependent upon the good faith of his captains, which proved too 
often a broken reed. With regard to the third element of 
popular consent, Sforza stood at enormous disadvantage as 
compared with the native lords. He had, indeed, been wel- 
comed by the inhabitants of the March, yet it has been proved 
times without number in Italian history that popular consent 
in order to be permanent must rest upon an hereditary basis. 
Camerino invited Sforza's protection after the massacre of the 
Varani, but In a year's time It rebelled against him, and the 
city knew no peace until Rodolfo Varano was recalled to the 
Signoria In 1444. In the same way the vagaries of Tolentino 
were due to the local family of Mauruzi, who, as soldiers of 
fortune, passed from one camp to another, and almost Invariably 
carried with them the ,,~vmpathles of their native town. The 
contrast between the loyalty of Cotignola and the fickleness of 
Francesco's dominions In the March is the measure of the value 
of popular consent unfortified by hereditary ties. It Is not 
without significance that the town which showed most affection 
for Sforza was that which remained longest under his rule. 
Jesi, where the citizens petitioned vainly against the sale of 
their town to the Papacy in 1447, had been the first place 
In the March to acknowledge Sforza, and It had also served 
as his headquarters during subsequent campaigns. This goes 
far towards proving that if Sforza could have lived for some 
time In the March, he might have won the personal affection 
that was not his by hereditary right. Yet residence In the 
province was made Impossible, both by Sforza's profession as 
a condottiere and by the fact that his true Interest centred In 
Lombardy. His rule in the March of Ancona could only be 
an episode, a study In the art of despotism whereby Sforza 
gained experience, to be used on a larger scale and under more 
favourable conditions. 



S B 

C/3 55 

co u 

fvj ^3 



rt o 

g g 





DURING the last few weeks of Francesco Sforza's career 
in the March of Ancona, Milan, upon which his eyes 
were now fixed, formed a veritable hot-bed of political intrigue 
and party rivalry. Filippo Maria Visconti, characteristic to the 
last, preferred to sacrifice the Duchy to the evils of a disputed 
succession rather than to commit himself to any one party 
before his death. Hence the numerous claimants to Milan 
gathered like vultures round the dying prince, in the hope that 
if they could not carry off the prize in its entirety they might 
at least contrive to divide the spoils. From the point of view 
of hereditary right, Charles, Duke of Orleans, had a strong 
claim upon Milan through his mother, Valentina Visconti, a 
claim, moreover, which Filippo Maria had brought into promin- 
ence by appealing to the French king for aid against Venice. 
Valentina's dowry town of Asti had remained in the hands of 
the Dukes of Milan until Filippo Maria, in the hour of panic 
after Micheletto's victory at Casalmaggiore in 1446, sent an 
embassy to France promising to cede Asti on the day that a 
contingent of French troops crossed the Alps in his defence. 
His panic over, the Duke of Milan endeavoured to retract his 
promises, but, meanwhile, French troops had arrived in Italy. 
Only a day or two before Filippo Maria's death, they took 
possession of Asti and proceeded to proclaim the Duke of 
Orleans as the true heir to Milan. Other claimants through 
the female line were Albert and Sigismund of Hapsburg, the 
great-grandchildren of Bernabc- Visconti The Duke of Savoy 
Jioped at least to recover Vercelli and the surrounding district, 



which had only been yielded to Milan on the marriage of Maria 
of Savoy to Filippo Maria Visconti. Frederick III, also pot 
in his claim to the Duchy as a fief which had lapsed to the 
Empire on the extinction of heirs male. Yet the real straggle 
lay not between any of these claimants but between the cham- 
pions of the rival schools of soldiery within the walls of Milan. 
Bracceschi and Sforzeschi contended for the appointment of 
Filippo Maria's successor, as, in former years, they had striven 
for the control of his armies. At the moment of the Duke's 
death the Bracceschi were in possession of the field. Profiting 
by the inevitable reaction which followed on Visconti J s recon- 
ciliation with Francesco Sforza, they so poisoned the Duke's 
mind against his son-in-law that he sent orders to Francesco 
not to come to Lombardy, and, the day before his death, he 
made a will appointing Alfonso of Naples as his successor. The 
Bracceschi, who regarded Alfonso as their candidate, acted upon 
their advantage with the utmost promptitude. During the 
night of 1 3th August, almost before Filippo Maria had breathed 
his last, Aragonese troops were introduced into the Castello, the 
captains in Visconti's service were persuaded to swear fealty to 
Alfonso, and by daybreak the banners of Aragon floated above 
the castle walls. Sforza's adherents might well feel that their 
cause was hopeless. 

The triumph of Alfonso was 3 however, short-lived. Public 
opinion in Milan was not merely divided as to whether the 
King of Naples or Francesco Sforza should succeed to the 
throne of the Visconti. Many of the most thoughtful and in- 
fluential citizens were considering the possibility of having no 
Dute at all The days of the ancient Republic had not been 
forgotten, and existing circumstances were peculiarly calculated 
to make them appear In the light of a golden age. Learned 
bodies in Milan, notably the College of Jurisprudence, were led 
by their new-born enthusiasm for the classics to contrast the 
justice and stability of the rule of law with the caprices of the 
Visconti. Venice was then at the height of her power and 
prosperity. Hence the mercantile classes of Milan were 
anxious to copy her form of government in the hope of achiev- 
ing a like success. At the same time Milan was filled to over- 


Bowing with workmen, disbanded soldiers and preferment 
hunters of every kind, who had been attracted thither by the 
splendours of the Visconti Court The ranks of this floating 
population were further swelled by a crowd of peasants who 
had fled Into the city to escape the ravages of the Venetian 
troops. One and all were prepared to play their part in any 
disturbance that might arise. Filippo Maria's life in the 
Castello had been so completely cut of? from the outside world 
that his illness had hardly been realised in Milan, and the news 
of his death at once threw the city into confusion. Thereupon 
the advocates of liberty seized their opportunity. On the 
morning of i/f-th August, under the leadership of four members 
of the College of Jurisprudence (Antonio Trivulzio, Giorgio 
Larnpugiiano, Innocenzo Cotta and Teodoro Bossi), the popu- 
lace gathered behind the Palace of the Commune and proclaimed 
the Golden Ambrosian Republic. Filippo Maria's captains 
disregarded their oath to Alfonso and threw in their lot with 
the Republic. Thanks to their aid, the Aragonese troops were 
driven from Milan. A few days later Niccolo Guarna, one of 
the friends who had written to urge Sforza's coming, sent him 
the following news : " The Castello is in the hands of this com- 
munity and its destruction has already been begun. The 
fortress has raised the banner of S. Ambrose." l 

The Ambrosian Republic had entered upon its career amid 
general enthusiasm and with some degree of triumph. Yet 
the difficulties which lay before it were enormous. Francesco 
Filelfo read the signs of the times aright when he wrote of the 
" vehement storms and tempests " which were impending upon 
the political horizon. 2 With the ducal authority in abeyance 
the government of Milan fell back upon the old municipal 
constitution, which must needs be adapted to the requirements 
of a large territorial State. Moreover, this process of adaptation, 
delicate and difficult enough in itself, must be carried on in the 
midst of a war with Venice, when the forces of the enemy might 

1 Beltrami s L., II Castello di Milano sotto il dominio degli Sforssa. Milan, 

2 Peluso, F., Storia delta Republics, Milanese dalV anno 1447 al 1450, p. 
313. Milan, 1871. 


at any moment appear before the gates of Milan. Theoreti- 
cally the supreme authority In Milan was the Council of Nine 
Hundred, composed of a hundred and fifty representatives from 
and to which all lawyers and soldiers above a certain 
rank had right of entrance. Yet it had been rarely summoned 
by the Visconti, and It had never been called upon to frame laws 
but only to accept or reject the measures which were laid before 
It It was clear that such a body was altogether unsuitable for 
carrying on the work of government. Hence a committee of 
twenty-four, known as the Captains and Defenders of the Liberty 
of Milan, was elected on I4th August to "rule, govern and de 
the city- In peace and war" until January, 1448. Althoug** 
the Council of Nine Hundred was summoned four days later 
to conirm the election, this committee was as much outside 
the ordinary constitution as had been the ducal authority. 
Nevertheless, the Captains and Defenders became henceforth 
the true rulers of Milan. The list of the first twenty-four, which 
contains representatives of the leading families In Milan and a 
large proportion of distinguished lawyers, shows that the revolu- 
tion had been primarily an aristocratic rather than a democratic 
movement, and that the fortunes of the Republic rested with 
those citizens who would be most likely to prove capable of 

Apart from this new committee, the constitution of Milan 
remained practically unchanged. The Podesta and Captain still 
remained at the head of justice and police, while the existing 
Podesta was confirmed in his office, for the next four months, 
by the Council of Nine Hundred. The Council also elected a 
new Vicar of Provision who, with his twelve colleagues, formed 
a sort of town council for the regulation of the markets and for 
the general administration of the city. Six nobles were chosen 
as Magistrates of the Revenues, In place of Filippo Maria's 
Finance Committee. At the same time another body of twenty- 
four was created to manage the property of the Republic and to 
exercise the functions of the former Ducal Councillors. 

So far all had gone well, and within the walls of Milan the 
success of the infant Republic seemed complete. The real 
difficulty lay, however, with the subject-towns of the Duchy, 


recognised Viscontl as their lord, but whose deep- 
seated jealousy of Milan made them very unlikely to accept 
her authority*. These cities soon made It clear that they had 
no Intention of submitting to the Ambrosian Republic. Pavia 
rejected all overtures on the part of her ancient rival and pro- 
claimed her Independence. Lodi and Piacenza called in the 
Venetians, while Alessandria, Novara and Como alone remained 
loyal to Milan. The defection of the subject-towns was a serious 
blow to the Ambrosian Republic, especially in the matter of 
finance. In the irst burst of republican enthusiasm, the twenty- 
four Captains had burned the books relating to taxation, de- 
claring that the day of heavy burdens was at an end, and that 
henceforth it would be only necessary to contribute to the treasure 
of S. Ambrose, and to the maintenance of the army. With 
a practically empty exchequer such a measure was the height 
of Imprudence, and before the end of August it was found neces- 
sary to reirnpose the customs and the. grist tax to meet the 
needs of the moment. When the Republic further lost the 
greater part of the tribute due from the subject-towns, it found 
itself in possession of something like one-fourth of the revenues 
enjoyed by the Duke, while there was no corresponding diminu- 
tion of expenses. To remedy the difficulty thirty citizens were 
elected to assess a new tax on all within the dominions of the 
Republic "to the amount that should seem to them just". 1 In 
other words, taxation had become as arbitrary and as uncertain 
as it had been during the worst periods of Visconti rule. 

Meanwhile every effort had been made to end the war with 
Venice. On the occupation of Lodi and Piacenza, the Am- 
brosian Republic, with pathetic naivety, sent ambassadors to 
Venice begging the ancient Republic not to harm her new sister 
but to further the cause of liberty by accepting her offers of 
friendship. The Venetians, as might be expected, treated these 
proposals of peace with derision, for they saw In the change of 
government an opportunity for adding the greater part of the 
Milanese to their own dominions. Hence Milan must needs 
collect an army and prepare to renew the conflict to the best of 
her ability. Under these circumstances her thoughts turned 
1 Peluso, F., pp. 71-73. 


towards Francesco Sforza, the greatest soldier of the 
and who, but for FlIIppo Maria's death, would have been 
at moment In Milanese service. Antonio Trivulzio was 

despatched to Sforza's camp, and on 3Oth August a 
treaty was made at Parma by which Sforza agreed to serve the 
Ambrosian Republic on the same terms as those which he had 
made with the late Duke. It was expressly stipulated that 
Francesco should not attempt to keep for himself any of the 
cities which he might conquer, with the exception of Brescia. 
This, however, should form his share of the spoils unless Verona 
were also conquered, in which case he would keep the latter 
city, giving up Brescia to Milan. 

The news that Milan had declared itself a Republic could 
not but be mortifying to Francesco Sforza. It seemed as 
though he had sacrificed his hold on the March of Ancona for a 
chimera, and that the prize which he had believed to be within 
Ms grasp was as far off as ever. As was his custom at the 
critical moments of his career, he turned for advice to Cosimo 
del Medici, who urged him to go boldly on his way regardless 
of the new difficulties which lay between him and his goal* Too 
many rival interests were centred in Romagna for Sforza to be 
able to found a secure dominion there, whereas in Milan he 
might still gain by perseverance and diplomacy what was denied 
to him by peaceful succession. Thus the Milanese ambassadors 
found Sforza ready to listen to their overtures. He had resolved, 
according to the characteristic Italian phrase, to yield to the 
times (piegarsi ai tempi} and to serve Milan as a captain in the 
hope that it might lead in the end to his ruling her as a prince. 
Without a moment's delay Francesco threw himself into pre- 
parations for war. His wife and children were left at Cremona, 
Francesco and Jacopo Piccinino were persuaded to bury their 
former enmity and to accept posts of command in Sforza's 
army. Bartolomeo Colleone was also taken Into the service of the 
Republic Finally, on I3th September, a decree was proclaimed 
in Milan ordering all those who loved their present state of 
liberty and who were capable of bearing arms to join Francesco 
Sforza in the field. The ease with which these negotiations had 
been concluded could not, however, overcome the fatal flaw which 


exist in any alliance between Sforza and the Ambrosian 
Republic. It was the usual condottiere difficulty In a peculiarly 
acute form. From a military point of view, the welfare of the 
Republic demanded absolute confidence In Sforza as a general, 
yet for political reasons this confidence was Impossible, as few 
could doubt that he would play for his own hand If an op- 
portunity presented itself. 

Hardly had the war begun before an event occurred which 
revealed to the full the difficulties of the situation. Sforza 
began hostilities by attacking San Colombano, a town between 
Pavia and Lodl, which had been occupied by the Venetians. 
Thither Pavia, already conscious of her inability to maintain her 
lately acquired liberty, sent an offer to receive him as lord. 
The fortress was in the hands of a certain Matteo di Bologna, 
popularly known as II Bolognlno, who, owing to the Influence of 
Bianca's mother,, Agnese del Maino, was prepared to yield It to 
Sforza. On the mere rumour of the offer, ambassadors from 
Milan were sent to protest against Its acceptance, as a contra- 
vention of Sforza's recent treaty with the Ambrosian Republic. 
Yet if Sforza refused, Pavia would yield to Venice, and its ar- 
senal, powder magazines and treasure, which might have aided 
the cause of Milan, would be placed at the disposal of the 
enemy. Hence the Council of Nine Hundred reluctantly 
allowed Sforza to take possession of Pavia with the title of 
Count At the same time they consoled themselves by secretly 
negotiating with Venice with a view to peace. 

Meanwhile Francesco was solemnly received In Pavia as 
Count He promised in the capitulations to respect the ancient 
privileges of the city, to raise no new taxes, to pay his own 
officials, and to devote a certain portion of the revenues to the 
repair of the walls and bridges. To these conditions he strictly 
adhered, and from that time the citizens of Pavia were among 
the most loyal subjects of the House of Sforza. Bolognino, to 
whom Francesco owed his good fortune, remained in charge 
of the Castello and was adopted into the family of the Attendoli 
in token of his services. His more substantial reward was the 
Castle of S. Angelo, near Lodi, which remained in the pos- 
session of the Counts Attendoli Bolognini until comparatively 


modern times. Sforza had, indeed, every cause to be grateful 
to the by whose means he had become lord of this second 

of the Milanese. The Castello with its jewels and 
of every description, Its plentiful supply of weapons 
ammunition, its walJs covered with frescoes and Its mag- 
nificent Horary, filled him with wonder and admiration. In 
all Italy, he declared, from the Alps to Messina, he had 
not its equal. Pavia was peculiarly valuable to Sforza 

owing to the command of the Po which the city possessed 
through her fleet. Although most of the ships were in bad 
repair, Francesco was able to launch a few at once, while he 
ordered fresh vessels to be prepared in the arsenal for future 
use. Not only would the fleet serve to guard Cremona, but 
it would aid in the undertaking upon which all efforts were now 
to be concentrated, namely, the siege of Piacenza. Early in 
October Sforza J s armies were planted round the city, while 
four ships from Pavia guarded the Po and so prevented , the 
Venetians from relieving Piacenza by water. The river, 
swollen by autumn rains, formed an easy route for the pro- 
visions coming from Pavia, and not even a feint of the Venetians 
in the direction of Milan could make Sforza relax his hold on the 
beleaguered city. Piacenza, however, with a newly stored harvest 
was well stocked with supplies, and when, in December, there 
seemed no immediate prospect of surrender Sforza decided to 
take the city by storm. Such an undertaking was almost un- 
heard-of at that date, for in the use of artillery Sforza was in ad- 
vance of his time. By means of his cannon he contrived to 
make a breach in the walls, which were held to be well-nigh im- 
pregnable, and thus to gain possession of the city. The sack 
which followed left Piacenza in ruins, and it has been spoken of as 
a blot on Sforza's name. Yet his troops had grown weary with 
the long siege, and the promise of plunder had alone persuaded 
them to make the attack. Hence it would have been hard 
for Francesco to act otherwise, and he at least did his best to 
provide places of refuge for women and children by guarding 
the hospitals and monasteries. 

The news of the fall of Piacenza was received in Milan 
with three days 7 public rejoicing, yet such was the mistrust of 


the Republic towards its Captain-General that his victories 
occasioned almost as much alarm as did those of the enemy. 
During the siege of Piacenza, Colleone had been engaged on 
the Western frontiers of the Duchy against the French garrison 
from AstI which was skirmishing in the district round Alessan- 
dria On learning that the inhabitants of Tortona had pro- 
claimed Sforza as their lord, Coileone attacked the town and 
succeeded in making himself master of it This Incident was 
the cause of far greater rejoicing in Milan than was the re- 
capture of Placenza from Venice. 

In January, 1448, the original Captains of the Republic went 
out of office, and those who were elected to take their place re- 
presented rather those Guelphic nobles who were allied with 
the merchant class than the Ghlbelline aristocracy who were 
prominent in the early days of the Republic. From the 
Guelphs sprang the greater part of the opposition to Sforza, 
and thus the change of government resulted In renewed efforts 
after peace. By means of the Piccinini brothers, who were 
always ready to intrigue against Sforza even when they were 
fighting under his banner, a secret conference was held between 
ambassadors from Milan and Venice at Bergamo. Venice, how- 
ever, had the smallest opinion of the Ambrosian Republic, and 
she would not consent to relinquish any of her conquests. 
Nevertheless, such was the hatred and fear of Sforza that 
the Council of Nine Hundred was persuaded to agree to peace 
on the terms which Venice might dictate. To such men as 
Giorgio Lampugnano and Teodoro Bossi peace under such 
humiliating conditions appeared in the light of a national dis- 
grace. They contrived to Infuse the populace with their senti- 
ments, and the mob surrounded the Court of Arengo, where 
the Council of Nine Hundred were sitting, shouting " Guerra ! 
Guerra ! " In the face of this demonstration the attempt at 
peace was abandoned. Sforza was allowed to prepare for a 
fresh campaign, but it was made clear from the first that it 
would be conducted according to the ideas of the Republic 
and not according to those of the Captain-General, The fact 
that a campaign fought under these conditions should be marked 


by two of Sforza's most celebrated victories forms no small 
testimony to his military talents. 

In all the wars between Milan and Venice the river system 
of Lombardy played an important part. Both powers pos- 
sessed fleets which struggled with one another for the command 
of the Po, and more especially for the command of the three 
towns of Piacenza, Cremona and Casalmaggiore, which guarded 
the river at different points. Besides this, the rivers running 
northward from the Po divided the country into distinct blocks. 
The land campaigns of the Lombard wars usually took the 
form of a contest for the possession of one among these strips 
of country. At the beginning of the struggle with Visconti the 
frontiers of Venice did not go beyond the Mincio. Now her 
Influence extended not only to the strip between the Mincio 
and the Oglio but to that between the Oglio and the Adda, 
while the possession of Lodi on the western bank of the Adda 
brought her into the district between the Adda and the Ticino, 
in which Milan itself lay. Milan's great object in the cam- 
paign of 1448 was to wrest the command of the Adda from 
Venice. In Sforza's opinion this could best be done by trans- 
ferring the war into the district between the Oglio and the 
Mincio. He proposed to attack the Venetian fleet which was 
threatening Cremona and to strike from thence to Brescia. By 
this means the Venetians would be drawn off from the Adda, 
and Lodi would be isolated. The Ambrosian Republic, how- 
ever, favoured the simpler plan of besieging Lodi. It was 
suggested that Sforza only wished to attack Brescia in order to 
gain it for himself. In the words of a certain Broccardo Persico, 
an intimate of the Piccinini and one of Sforza's bitterest foes, 
"the Milanese fostered in their bosom a great serpent who 
daily increased his own fortune at their expense". Hence 
Francesco must needs concentrate his forces on Lodi, conscious 
all the while that he was wasting time which could be cm- 
ployed to far greater advantage elsewhere. Meanwhile the 
Venetian fleet under Andrea Quirini was making a determined 
effort against the bridge at Cremona. When some of the 
enemy contrived to plant the banner of S, Mark on the bridge, 
it seemed that both it and Cremona itself must be taken. They 


were saved by the promptitude of Bianca Sforza, who acted on 
that occasion " not like a woman but like a bold captain ". 
Sending post-haste for reinforcements which she knew to be In 
the neighbourhood, she repulsed the enemy with their aid. At 
the same time she wrote to warn her husband, and In the face 
of such Imminent danger he was at last allowed to move on 
the Venetian fleet At the head of his troops, thankful to be 
delivered from the tedium of a siege, Francesco made a dash 
for Cremona, to find that the Venetian fleet had moved off and 
had entrenched itself behind stakes in a narrow branch of the 
Po at Casalmagglore. Micheletto Attendolo, who, with the 
Venetian land forces, was only seven miles off, hoped to enclose 
Sforza between the army and the fleet. Yet he had not 
reckoned upon the efficiency of Sforza's artillery, which 
wrought havoc among the Venetian ships from the northern 
bank of the Po before Micheletto could bring up his troops. 
Worse still, the ships found the way of escape barred by the 
Milanese fleet. The stakes behind which the Venetians had 
posted themselves only permitted the exit of one vessel at a 
time. Hence each ship in turn fell a prey to the enemy, until 
QuirinI was forced to withdraw into Casalmaggiore, burning 
the vessels that had not been already destroyed or captured to 
prevent them from falling into Sforza's hands. Thus Venice 
lost her whole fleet of seventy vessels, and on i8th July the 
bells of Milan were pealing at the news of this great victory. 
Success, however, only made the Ambrosian Republic more 
self-confident and, if anything, more suspicious of Sforza. 
Earlier In the year Francesco had driven the Venetians from 
the greater part of the district known as the Ghiarad'adda 
which lay along the eastern shores of the Adda, north of LodL 
Yet Caravagglo, one of the most important towns In the district, 
was still in the hands of the enemy. This being so, the rulers 
of Milan would hear not a word In favour of a diversion on 
Brescia. They were determined to tie Sforza down to the 
Ghiarad'adda, until the taking of Lodi and Caravaggio made It 
possible to end the war. 

By the end of July Sforza had sat down before Caravaggio, 
Here, too, the bulk of the Venetian forces gathered In defence 


of the town. Various skirmishes took place between the two 
armies, yet nothing occurred to break the siege until on ijth 
September Micheletto, fearing every moment that Caravaggio 
would yield, determined on a general attack The Venetians 
approached from an unexpected quarter, and Sforza was so 
completely taken by surprise that he did not have time to ^ put 
on his full armour. Yet the discipline which he maintained 
among his troops could stand the test of panic. Encouraged 
by his example the men threw themselves into the battle, and 
in two hours a victory had been won which Corio describes as 
"great and memorable, not only in our own times but in the 
ages to come ". When the commissaries of the Ambrosian 
Republic returned to Milan, with three of the Venetian generals 
and the two provveditori among their prisoners, and went in 
state to place the banner of S. Mark in the Cathedral, it seemed 
to the enthusiastic citizens for all the world " like a triumph of 
ancient Rome ". Yet in the midst of the general rejoicing there 
was little sign of gratitude towards the conqueror. The Cap- 
tains and Defenders of Liberty were more than ever determined 
on peace, and Sforza was ordered to proceed without delay to 
LodL Meanwhile the country round Brescia was in full revolt, 
and several fortresses sent their keys to Sforza begging him to 
come and take possession of the district With the prospect of 
winning Brescia before him, and with his troops eager for fresh 
triumphs, it required more than human nature on Francesco's 
part to return quietly to his old occupation of besieging Lodi. 
Even the Milanese commissaries saw that it was a moment in 
which to follow up their victory by carrying the war into the 
enemy's country, and thus Sforza was at length permitted to 
cross the Oglio. Yet while Francesco mustered his forces 
round Brescia, his enemies, headed by the Piccinini and Erasrno 
Trivulzio, were diligently working against him. The Piccinini, 
who had come to Milan after Caravaggio, obtained permission 
not to return to Sforza' s camp but to proceed instead to Lodi, 
while peace negotiations were once more opened by means of 
the Milanese merchants in Venice. Sforza received instructions 
to abandon Brescia and to withdraw into the neighbourhood of 
Verona, atjd the envoy who was charged with these orders 


spent his leisure moments in circulating a rumour in the camp 
that those troops which remained with Sforza must not look 
to the Ambrosian Republic for payment. At the same time 
Brescia was secretly encouraged to hold out until the approach- 
ing peace should end the siege. When, after the discovery of 
this treachery on the part of Milan, Sforza was approached by 
the Venetians with offers of alliance, it is hardly surprising that 
he consented to listen to them. The Venetians, on their side, 
saw that Sforza alone prevented them from gaining all that 
they desired of Milanese territory, and thus they turned a deaf 
ear to the proposals of the Republic while they did their utmost 
to win Sforza for themselves. Francesco should receive thirteen 
thousand ducats a month from Venice until he had made him- 
self master of the whole Duchy of Milan if he would agree to 
hand over Crema and the Ghiarad'adda to the Venetians as 
their share of the spoils. Meanwhile Sforza must abandon the 
siege of Brescia and the conquests which he had made in the 
territory while the Venetians would withdraw from Lodi. On 
1 8th October the treaty was signed according to these terms, 
and Sforza passed to the side of Venice. 

Sforza's action in making a separate treaty with the enemy 
while he was in the service of the Ambrosian Republic is one 
which it may be impossible to justify, but for which it is never- 
theless easy to find excuses. However much the Ambrosian 
Republic might fear Sforza politically, they made a fatal mis- 
take in not trusting to his ability and good faith as a soldier. 
The danger to the Republic would arise when in her joy at the 
successful termination of the war Milan might proclaim the all 
too willing Sforza as their lord. But so long as Sforza was 
fighting Venice his interests were those of his employers, and 
he sought only to carry on the war in the way most conducive 
to success. In this he found himself hampered at every turn 
by those who should have helped him. In view of repeated 
negotiations with Venice unknown to the Cap tain- General, and 
the double game which was played with regard to Brescia, 
Sforza's treachery seems but the natural reply to the treachery 
of the Ambrosian Republic. Time was soon to prove, more- 
over, that Sforz,a. alone gould save the Duchy of Milan from 


dismemberment. It might seem at first sight as if Sforza's 
alliance with Venice had undone his former labours, and that 
he would now have to reconquer the places which he had won 
for the Ambrosian Republic during the last year. Yet Pavia 
and Cremona were not alone in regarding Sforza rather than 
Milan as their sovereign. On the news of Francesco's alliance 
with Venice Piacenza at once offered herself to him, and before 
the year was out Novara, Tortona, Alessandria and Vigevano 
had willingly surrendered him their keys. Thus, from the point 
of view of the prosperity and peace of Lombardy, Sforza's 
action finds ample justification. If he aimed at depriving Milan 
of her liberty, he would also preserve the autonomy of the 
Duchy and save it from being split up among a number of 
petty republics, a prey to their own quarrels and to the aggres- 
sions of their more powerful neighbours. 

Meanwhile events within Milan were making it dally more 
apparent that the Ambrosian Republic was doomed to failure. 
The would-be rulers of a large territory had shown themselves 
unable to enforce their authority within the walls of one city. 
During the year 1448 the garrison of the Castello, having 
plundered the houses in the neighbourhood until they were 
left deserted, stole the materials of the ruined fortress and sold 
them in the city for their own profit, finding an extensive pur- 
chaser in the Fabbrica del Duomo. Thieves made raids on the 
country round and carried off provisions and cattle in the name 
of the Government. The mob frequently took the law into 
their own hands and ransacked the houses of those who were 
suspected of disloyalty to the Republic, Edicts were published 
assigning the most severe punishments to these crimes, yet it is 
clear that they were nothing more than threats. The workmen 
who neglected their task of fortifying the Porta Ticincsc, for 
example, were threatened with the gallows, but in the end the 
Republic only endeavoured to bring home to them the error of 
their ways by rewarding their more industrious companions. 
Hand-in-hand with this weakness went suspicion. Not only 
did the heads of the Republic live in constant fear of intrigues 
against the Government, but they also suspected their own 
officials of wishing to undermine their authority. Hence the 


Podesta was endowed with absolute powers, extending even to 
life and death, against all involved In political conspiracies, 
while Carlo Gonzaga was appointed Captain of the People in 
November, 1447, in order that another military authority might 
exist as a counterfoil to that of Sforza. At the same time three 
lieutenants were chosen to act as a check upon the new captain. 
Such multiplication of officials imposed additional burdens on 
the Republic and stood in the way of efficiency, while it could 
not prevent a strong man from becoming powerful. Meanwhile 
the Republic must seek to replenish its exchequer by means of 
fines and confiscations and by instituting a State lottery. Re- 
gardless of the many urgent matters which demanded the 
attention of the Republic during the first year of its existence, 
the Government wasted time over measures, estimable enough 
in themselves, but of quite secondary importance. In March, 
1448, for example, a scheme for a University at Milan was 
mooted and an elaborate list of professors was drawn up. Yet, 
in those troublous times, the professors could have found few 
pupils, and there was certainly no money forthcoming for their 
salaries. The whole movement sprang less from any love of 
learning than from the desire to injure the University of Pavia 
and to prevent Milan from being in any way dependent upon 
the rival city. Edicts for the enforcement of morality and of 
religious observances are prominent in the statute books of the 
time. Instead of providing for the defence of Milan, the Re- 
public passed decrees forbidding barbers to shave on Saints' 
days. 1 It is, however, only fair to give the Captains and De- 
fenders due credit for their efforts to stamp out the plague. An 
officer of public health was appointed to whom cases of illness 
were reported by the head of each parish ; priests were forbidden 
to bury without a written license, and persons coming from in- 
fected places were not allowed to enter the city. Thanks to 
these measures, Milan was practically free from plague during 
the whole career of the Ambrosian Republic. 

1 Cf. Formentini, Ducato di Milano. Decree of October, 1447. The days 
were reckoned from sunset to sunset. Hence a special clause was added to the 
effect that if a barber were actually shaving a customer at this hour, he should be 
allowed to finish. 



In spite of its obvious defects, the Ambrosian Republic 
might still have been able to hold Its own but for its failure to 
override the factions which divided Milan. The tendency to 
oust the Ghibellines from power, which was first seen in the 
elections of January, 1448, became more marked as time went 
on, until, in 1449, the new magistracy was drawn almost entirely 
from the middle classes who looked to the Guelphic nobles for 
support A certain notary, Giovanni Appiani, and Giovanni 
Ossona, whom Corio describes as a " low tradesman/' became 
prominent in public affairs. These men found a leader in Carlo 
Gonzaga, who had from the first done much to widen the breach 
in the Government, by throwing himself hotly on the side of 
the Guelphs. Soon after the alliance between Sforza and Venice, 
Milan had witnessed a wave of popular feeling in Francesco's 
favour, which had only been subdued by an eloquent plea for 
liberty on the part of Giorgio Lampugnano. Now, to guard 
against another such reaction, the authority of Carlo Gonzaga 
was increased until it amounted practically to a dictatorship. 
The magnificence of his house in Milan and his lavish hospital- 
ity clearly indicated that Gonzaga aimed still higher. Nothing 
would better further his ambitions than to substitute for the 
original leaders of the Republic a class of men whom ignorance 
of the art of government would render subservient to his will. 
Unless something were done to check him, the Republic would 
speedily be transformed into the worst kind of tyranny to 
which even Sforza's triumph would be preferable. Such was the 
opinion of Lampugnano and his Ghibelline friends who gathered 
in the house of Vitaliano Borromeo to discuss the situation. 
They thereupon decided to open negotiations with Sforza with 
a view to placing Milan in his hands. Frequent communica- 
tions passed between Sforza's camp at Landriano and the 
Ghibellines within the city, but unfortunately the negotiations 
did not escape Gonzaga's vigilance. His suspicions once 
aroused, Gonzaga contrived to intercept some letters directed 
to Teodoro Bossi, which revealed to him the extent of the 
conspiracy. It was no easy matter to arrest conspirators who 
were drawn from the most influential families in Milan, but the 
Captains and Defenders of Liberty were determined to avenge 


themselves on the Ghibellines. They therefore had recourse 
to a stratagem of which Giorgio Lampugnano and Teodoro 
Bossi were the victims. The leaders of the Ambrosian Re- 
public, although they refused to submit to the Emperor, had 
from the first been anxious to secure his protection and support. 
Thus Lampugnano and Bossi agreed without suspicion to go 
on a special embassy to the Court of Frederick III. They had 
hardly started on their way to Como before they were captured 
and thrown into prison in the Castle of Monza. Lampugnano 
was beheaded without any form of trial, and his head was carried 
on a pike to Milan to be exhibited on the Piazza of the Broletto. 
The details of the conspiracy and the names of his accomplices 
were extracted from Bossi by means of torture, and there 
followed a massacre of the leading Ghibellines in Milan. Some, 
such as Vitaliano Borromeo, contrived to escape, but a con- 
siderable number of heads joined that of Lampugnano on 
the Piazza of the Broletto, in order that all might see the 
fate of those who intrigued against the Republic. Jneas 
Sylvius Piccolomini, who was in Milan during the greater part 
of the republican period in order to further the interests of his 
master Frederick III., makes special mention of the fate of 
"that great champion of liberty," Giorgio Lampugnano. He 
was indeed the hero and martyr of the Ambrosian Republic. 
Jineas Sylvius describes how Lampugnano, in his enthusiasm 
for the cause of liberty, tore up the will of Filippo Maria 
Visconti appoirOig Alfonso of Aragon as his heir. He had 
shown himself since then as active in promoting the best 
interests of the Republic as he had been originally in bringing 
it into existence. "Be prudent," Francesco Filelfo had once 
written to him. "Beware of meddling too much in public 
affairs. Remember that all those who have sought glory in 
the conflict of political passions have perished miserably." 1 
Yet the warnings of the humanist who supported the Republic 
for the sake of what he could obtain from it, while he con- 
temptuously prophesied its fall, could not turn the political 
idealist from his path nor prevent a tragedy which deprived the 
Ambrosian Republic of its most whole-hearted champion. 
a C/. Peluso, F,, ojf>, cit., p. 186. 


The overthrow of the Ghibellines took place In February, 
1449. From this time Milan began to lose confidence In the 
Captains and Defenders, who, for their part, sought to counteract 
the general feeling of Insecurity and unrest by violent measures 
of repression. Not only was it made punishable by death to 
speak against the existing Government, but persons found 
collecting and talking in groups were liable to be dragged 
before the Captain of the People, who called upon them to 
prove that their communications were not treasonable if they 
wished to escape the gallows. The responsibility for this reign 
of terror has usually been laid on the shoulders of Ossona and 
Appiano, yet It is probable that they were more deluded than 
guilty, and that the real blame rests with men of higher rank, 
and more especially with Ambrogio Trivulzio, whose signature 
" Ambrosius " figures on many edicts of the period. Although 
originally one of the ancient Ghibelline families of Milan, the 
Trivulzi, by long opposition to the Visconti Dukes and by a 
factiousness which made them the enemy of any Government 
that they could not control, had become the natural leaders of 
the Guelphs. Throughout the republican period the brothers 
Ambrogio and Erasmo Trivulzio, with their nephew Antonio, 
were prominent In public affairs and in their opposition to 
Sforza. The Trivulzio Palace in Porta Romana formed a 
centre for Sforza's enemies, just as the houses of the Pusterla 
in Porta TIcinese became the rallying-place of his friends. 
Just fifty years later a Sforza Duke, flying before an invading 
army led by the most distinguished member of the House of 
Trivulzio, had good cause to remember this ancient rivalry. 

The twenty-four Captains and Defenders who were now 
elected for two months should have gone out of office In April 
Hence the refusal of the party in power to allow the elections 
to take place only intensified the general discontent. When, 
at the beginning of June, the elections could no longer be 
deferred, they resulted In the triumph of the opposite faction, 
and Ghibelline names such as Castiglione and Pusterla appear 
In the list of successful candidates. The new Government 
succeeded iti restoring some measure of tranquillity, but their 
excessive zeal in imprisoning Ossona and Appiano and in undoing 


the work of their predecessors produced a fresh popular agita- 
tion In Milan, On the last day of July the mob attacked the 
Captains and Defenders of Liberty while they were deliberating 
upon the elections of the morrow, and cut to pieces a certain 
Galeotto Toscano who failed to make his escape. The extremists 
were restored to power, and their first edict forbade all on pain 
of death to mention the name of either Francesco Sforza or his 
wife except in disrespect These last acts of violence disgusted 
even Carlo Gonzaga. For some time he had been conscious 
that his influence in Milan was on the wane. Now when the 
newly elected Captains were exulting over the wanton murder 
of his personal friend Toscano, he determined to abandon the 
Ambrosian Republic to Its fate. On nth September Gonzaga 
rode out of Milan, going nominally to aid the besieged city of 
Crema and its gallant defender Gaspare da Vimercate, in reality 
that he might make his peace with Sforza by offering to place 
Crema and LodI in his hands. 

During this year of disturbance within the walls of Milan 
Francesco Sforza had been carrying on the war with somewhat 
varying success. His anomalous position as the ally of Venice 
and the enemy of the Ambrosian Republic could not fail to 
carry with It certain disadvantages. In the midst of the ne- 
gotiations with the Venetians, for instance, Lodi opened her 
gates to Piccinlno and Sforza lost a city through a siege which 
he had himself conducted. In the same way Parma held per- 
sistently to that attitude of neutrality towards the Ambrosian 
Republic which Sforza had once made it his object to secure. 
It was only after Lionello d'Este's refusal to accept the signoria 
that the town eventually yielded to Alessandro Sforza. 

The former claimants to the Duchy, moreover, realising that 
Sforza was a far more dangerous competitor than the Am- 
brosian Republic, placed themselves on the side of his foes. 
Thus in the spring of 1449 the widowed Duchess of Milan 
persuaded her brother Louis of Savoy to make war round 
Novara in alliance with the Republic. Sforza thereupon ap- 
pealed to the old Duke Amadeus VIII. to stop his son's Inter- 
ference in a quarrel which concerned the representative of the 
ViscontI and the citizens of Milan alone. Amadeus had no 


wish to check the laudable ambitions of his son, and he replied 
from Rome, where he was engaged In resigning his office as 
anti-Pope, that his occupation with matters spiritual prevented 
him from concerning himself with matters temporal Hence 
Sforza must needs send an army under Colleone, which put an 
end to Louis's enterprise by a decisive victory at Borgo- 
manero. It did not, however, put an end to his ambitions. 
From this period dates a curious treaty between Louis of 
Savoy and the Dauphin of France for the partition of Milan. 
Genoa and Lucca should be added to the possessions of 
France, Alessandria should fall to Montferrat, and the rest 
of the Duchy north of the Po and west of the Adda should 
be annexed by the Duke of Savoy. The treaty produced no 
tangible results, and it is not even certain whether the French 
King was privy to it, yet it shows the strength of Sforza's 
rivals and the reality of the French ambitions with regard to 

Another of Sforza's difficulties during this period concerned 
his relations with his captains. When Francesco announced 
his alliance with Venice to the assembled troops and bade all 
serve whom they would, the captains who remained loyal to 
Sforza did so with a view to furthering definite ambitions. 
Roberto San Severino and his brothers clung to Sforza in order 
to maintain a hold on their fiefs in the Ghiarad'adda. Luigi 
dal Verme aimed at becoming Lord of Piacenza, and Sforza 
was obliged to propitiate him by marrying his illegitimate son 
to Dal Verme's only daughter. Guglielmo of Montferrat was 
bribed to Francesco's side by the fief of Alessandria and by 
the cession of the Visconti claims upon Turin. Such a method 
of obtaining captains was obviously expensive, and it proved 
no safeguard against treachery or desertion. Not many 
months later Sforza imprisoned Guglielmo of Montferrat in 
the Castello of Pavia, having discovered that he was about to 
withdraw his troops from the camp in order to further his own 
interests round Alessandria. Sforza aimed apparently at de- 
priving Milan of her captains at all costs. Yet, in view of 
their persistent enmity, it seemed the height of rashness to 
accept the services of the Piccinini brothers, who, having 


quarrelled with Gonzaga, left Milan for Sforza's camp. Sforza's 
mistake was brought home to him through the loss of Monza, 
which was on the point of surrendering to the Sforzeschi when 
Francesco Piccinino treacherously allowed Gonzaga to enter 
the city. Having once more proved themselves " most gifted 
in the art of deception," the Piccinini returned to Milan, only 
three months after they had left the city for Sforza's camp. 

Sforza's disadvantages and difficulties were, however, more 
than compensated by the fact that he could now fight openly 
in his own interests. Instead of winning cities for the Am- 
brosian Republic, in the hope that the Republic itself might 
eventually fall beneath his control, Sforza could make the 
conquest of Milan the primary object of his campaign. The 
treaty of October, 1448, had assigned to Venice practically the 
whole district between the Oglio and the Adda. Hence 
during the war of 1449 Sforza left the Venetians to complete 
their conquests in that quarter, while he concentrated his efforts 
upon the adjoining block between the Adda and the Ticino. 
Knowing that he could not take Milan by storm, Sforza pre- 
pared to make a ring fence round the city with his troops, in 
order that it might be starved into surrender. At the outset 
of the campaign Sforza obtained Abbiategrasso, from whence 
he proceeded to occupy the fertile districts of Seprio and 
Brianza, north of Milan. By this means the capital was de- 
prived both of her best granaries and of the water supply 
which came by a canal flowing from the Ticino at Abbiate- 
grasso. During the year which followed Francesco never once 
relaxed his hold on the Milanese. As one by one the places 
which served as a means of getting supplies into Milan fell 
into Sforza's hands, the famine in the city became more acute. 
The success of the Ambrosian Republic with regard to Monza 
proved but an isolated incident in a long course of failure. 
When Gonzaga approached Sforza with the offer of Crema 
and Lodi, Milan's chances of being able to maintain herself as 
an independent State were already gone. During the summer 
months Marignano, Vigevano, Tortona and Pizzighettone had 
one after the other made humble submission to the conqueror, 
while the Venetians only needed Crema to complete their share 


of the Vlscontl inheritance. Now Gonzaga proposed to yield 
Crema not to Venice but to Sforza. Francesco, however, while 
he at once sent troops to take possession of Lodi and invested 
Gonzaga with the fief of Tortona as a reward for his services, 
remained loyal to his treaty with the Venetians. Hence Crema, 
left without support, was forced to surrender to Venice. 

Once more, when Sforza seemed on the eve of success, fortune 
turned against him in a way that might well cause him to 
despair. For some time past Venice had begun to realise that 
her Interests would be better served by bolstering up the weak 
Ambroslan Republic than by aiding a powerful soldier to de- 
stroy It. The Venetian proweditore Marcello wrote from the 
seat of war to warn his Senate against Sforza, whose talents 
filled him with fear and admiration. Such a man, In Marcello's 
opinion, was bound to succeed, and when he became Duke of 
Milan, Venice would have cause to regret that she had aided his 
progress. Hence, when the acquisition of Crema gave to Venice 
all that she claimed by the treaty of October, 1448, she was 
ready to listen to the overtures of the Ambrosian Republic. 

On 24th September a treaty was published which, while 
confirming Venice In the possession of the district between the 
Oglio and the Adda, gave that between the Adda and the 
Ticino to the Ambrosian Republic. Pa via, although on the 
eastern bank of the Ticino, was left to Sforza, who but for this 
and for Cremona and Piacenza would hold only the strip of 
country which lay farthest west, between the Ticino and the 
Sesia. Sforza was given twenty days in which to ratify the 
peace. If he refused Venice would take arms In defence of her 
newly-found sister and ally. In short, Venice, having obtained 
her own share of the spoils, was prepared to make Sforza divide 
his with the Ambrosian Republic. 

The news of the treaty was received In Milan with every 
sign of rejoicing. It seemed to the distressed citizens that they 
had come to the end of their troubles, for who could imagine 
that a condottiere^ however powerful, would carry on a single- 
handed struggle against the combined forces of Milan and 
Venice ? So confident were they of peace that they used their 
remaining stores of grain in sowing the next season's crops. 


Yet the alliance between Milan and Venice, which a year earlier 
would have been a fatal blow to Sforza, had come too late to 
harm Mm. He resolved to continue the straggle, confident that 
If he could contrive to delay the junction of the Milanese and 
Venetian arms for a few months only, Milan would be forced 
to surrender. Hence the over-confidence of the Inhabitants in 
exhausting their supplies served to hasten Sforza's triumph. 

Before war began again Sforza set himself to make peace 
with Savoy, realising that the Intervention of another power at 
this critical moment might prove fatal to his cause. Thanks to 
the apathy of Louis of Savoy the peace was secured at the cost 
of some castles round Novara and Alessandria which Sforza 
could well afford to lose. Meanwhile the Milanese lost their 
best general owing to the death of Francesco Plccinino. The 
Venetians were now commanded by Sforza's old enemy in the 
March of Ancona, Sigismondo Malatesta, who opened the cam- 
paign by a desperate attempt to cross the Adda, In order to 
unite with the forces of the Ambrosian Republic under Jacopo 
PIccinlno. Malatesta contrived to get his troops across the river 
at Brlvio, only to be driven back again by Sforza. In January, 
1450, the two armies were still divided, when Colleone proposed 
to reach the Milanese by way of the Bergamo valleys and the 
Lecco branch of the Lake of Como. Colleone's scheme was 
successfully carried out, and early In February Sforza learned in 
his camp at VImercate that PIccinlno and Malatesta had joined 
forces preparatory to marching on his rear. Sforza's captains 
were for retiring to Pavla and Lodi In order to avoid an en- 
counter with the enemy. Francesco had learned, however, from 
a commissary of the Republic, who had lately fallen Into his 
hands, that Milan was reduced to the last extremity of want. 
Rather than abandon the fruits of the siege he determined at 
all costs to remain In the open field. On 26th February the 
end came, and ambassadors rode out from Milan to hail Sforza 
as the successor of the Vlsconti Dukes. 

It would he hard to over-estimate the miserable condition of 
Milan during the early days of 1450. A letter written by one 
Giovanni Teruffino to his Adorn! friends in Genoa as early as 
April, 1449, describes a state of misgovernrnent which enhanced 


the horrors of the famine and which was rapidly driving the citi- 
zens to desperation. " Owing to the lack of food, money and 
fodder, and to the Infinite number of malcontents/ 5 the letter con- 
cludes, " If His Excellency the Count (Sforza) approached Milan, 
the city would not hold out for a fortnight. May God so rule that 
this our province shall have peace," l The contemporary his- 
torian Decembrio, who was among the supporters of the Am- 
brosian Republic, has the same tale to telL " Affairs In Milan 
began to go from bad to worse. Owing to the loss of our 
dukes and to dissensions among the citizens, fresh schemes 
were formed daily of which each one was worse than the last . . 
The populace was tossed hither and thither like a ship in a 
storm." 2 

At length, on 24th February, the Council of Nine Hundred 
met in the Church of S. Maria della Scala, and a crowd col- 
lected round the doors, eager to hear of some change of policy. 
As the mob grew more vehement an attempt was made to dis- 
perse It, but the appearance of a body of mounted police, headed 
by the Captain of Justice, only served to kindle the exasperated 
citizens to action. Before the fury of the popular onslaught 
the police fled discomfited. Thereupon, the Insurgents elected 
Piero Cotta and Gaspare da Vimercate as their leaders, and ? 
amid cries of fl To the Arengo/' they rushed from the Piazza 
deila Scala to vent their anger upon the Captains and Defenders 
of Liberty. The Court of Arengo proved to be well guarded 
and the first attack upon it was repulsed. The movement 
seemed likely to end in disordered flight when the tide was 
turned by a lad named Francesco Trivulzlo. <f Why do we fly," 
he cried, "when no one pursues us?" Emboldened by his 
words, the citizens made a second attempt upon the Court of 
Arengo. In the gathering dusk they effected an entrance 
through the apartments of Maria of Savoy, and soon the palace 
was swarming with an angry throng, eager for a victim. At 
the head of the stairs the crowd came upon the Venetian am- 
bassador, Veniero. In a moment Giovanni Stampa had sprung 
upon him, wounding him in the throat and breast so that he 

1 Verri, P., Storia di Milano, vol. ii., p. 28. 

2 Decembrio, P. C., Vita Francisci S forties, cap. 37. Muratori, Rer. ItaL 
xx. 1034. 


fell back dead. This murder was the signal for the flight of 
the, terrified Captains and Defenders. Ere morning the insurg- 
ents held not only the Court of Arengo but all the gates of the 
city. They were, in short, masters of the situation. 

The next day, 25th February, S. Maria della Scala was 
the scene of another popular assembly, which met in order to 
decide on some immediate course of action. Here all the old 
pretensions with regard to Milan found their expression. The 
names of France, Savoy, the Pope, the Emperor went from 
mouth to mouth, and the sole point upon which all agreed was 
the vituperation of Venice. In the midst of the general con- 
fusion, Gaspare da Vimercate rose to make an eloquent appeal 
in favour of Francesco Sforza. As the defender of Crema no 
less than as the leader of yesterday's revolt, Gaspare was the 
hero of the hour, and his championship was in itself enough to 
influence the populace. Moreover, Sforza's efforts to ingratiate 
himself with the Milanese had not failed to produce their effect. 
When he set at liberty a body of the city militia, by himself 
paying a ransom to those of his troops which had captured 
them, the men returned to Milan loud in Sforza's praises. In 
the same way, his care to save the country districts from plunder 
contrasted favourably with the ravages of the Republican army. 
Above all, the assembly realised the force of Gaspare's argu- 
ment, that no other aid would come in time to save Milan. To 
open the gates to Sforza meant instant relief from the miseries 
of the siege, and hence the roof of the church rang with the 
shouts of his name. From the latest evidence on the subject, 1 
it appears that the citizens made the first draft of their capitu- 
lations with Sforza on the afternoon of the 25th, and that 
a deputation of six went to Vimercate on the morning of the 
26th to lay them before Francesco. He accepted the capitula- 
tions as a whole, and, deferring a separate answer to each clause 
for a future occasion, he at once set out for Milan. Before 
starting Sforza loaded the troops that accompanied him with 
as much bread as they could carry. Hence for ten miles out 
of the city the road was lined with the starving Inhabitants 

1 Colombo, A., L'ingresso di Francesco Sforza in Milano. Arch, Stor. Lomb,, 


who eagerly devoured the food which Sforza's soldiers doled 
out to them. When Sforza reached the Porta Nuova, he found 
to his surprise that It was barred against him. Ambroglo 
Trivulzlo and some of the extreme party resented Francesco's 
treatment of the capitulations, and they now demanded that 
each clause should be confirmed before Sforza entered Milan. 
Once more Francesco's path was made smooth by Gaspare da 
VImercate, who urged that such haggling over details formed 
an unworthy welcome to one who came, not as a conqueror, 
but as the successor of the VIscontI Dukes. In the enthusiasm 
of the moment, Trivulzio's objections were readily waved aside. 
Sforza rode In at the Porta Nuova amid ovations that befitted 
a native prince returning to his own. From thence he went 
straight to the Duomo to render thanks for this triumphant 
ending of his long struggle. Horse and rider were swept along 
by the excited multitude, not only to the door of the Cathedral 
but Into the building itself, where, still seated on his horse, 
Francesco was hailed on all sides as Duke. In the Castello of 
Milan a tablet Is still preserved which came originally from a 
house overlooking the route between the Porta Nuova and the 
Duomo, and which bears the following Inscription : " Franciscus 
Sfortia V Becomes, dux fill, et animo invictus et corpore, anno 
MCCCCL et IIII calendas Martias kora XX domini urbis 
Mediolani potitus est"^ The summit of Francesco Sforza's 
ambitions had been reached. The peasant condottiere' s son had 
become Duke of Milan. 

So ended the career of the Ambrosian Republic. Accord- 
ing to Machiavelli, Its failure was due to the great Inequalities 
of power and rank that existed among the inhabitants of Milan. 
*' In order to create a Republic In Milan," he writes, " it would 
be necessary to exterminate all the nobility. . . . For there are, 
among the nobles, so many exalted personages (tanti stra- 
ordinari) that the laws do not suffice to repress them, and they 
must needs be kept under by a living voice and a royal power." 2 

1 " Francesco Sforza VIsconti, 4th Duke, unconquerable In mind and in body, 
became lord of the city of Milan in the year 1450 on the 4th of the Kalends of 
March (Feb. 26) at the twentieth hour." 

2 Machiavelli, Discorso sulla riforma ctello stato di Fwenze, 




Yet, although the nobles might be excluded from a trading 
community such as Florence, in a society so largely feudal as 
that of Milan no such measure was possible. The Lampugnani, 
the Trivulzi, the Castiglioni, the Stampa, to quote but a few 
examples, while they were all ancient land-owning families with 
agricultural populations depending upon them, were no less the 
natural leaders of civic life in Milan. The merchants as a class 
took little interest in politics, and as their wealth was for the 
most part invested in land, their interests tended to identify 
themselves with those of the nobles. Below them came the 
artisans, who asked nothing better than to rule the Duchy on 
the principles of their democratic gild organisations. Yet it 
was clear from the later history of the Ambrosian Republic 
that love of liberty did not, in their case, involve capacity for 
government. Thus the withdrawal of the ducal authority left 
the nobles in possession, and it seemed at first as if they would 
establish an aristocratic Republic on the model of Venice. Their 
failure was partly caused by natural jealousy on the part of the 
artisans of those more capable than themselves, but perhaps 
chiefly by their own factions. Supported by the Guelphs the 
artisan class succeeded in capturing the organs of government, 
and in stamping the dealings of the Republic with the hall- 
marks of ignorance and fanaticism. At the same time they 
were powerless to prevent any noble who might for the moment 
possess popular favour from becoming their tyrant The result 
was a condition of misrule which could only end in fiasco. With 
the fall of the Ambrosian Republic Milan declared once and for 
all in favour of a despotism in that she had proved her utter 
inability to govern herself. 


(1450 1466) 

THE accession of Francesco Sforza formed a turning-point 
not only in the history of Milan but in that of Italy. 
Within Milan Sforza's recognition as Duke in 1450 marked the 
final abandonment of Republican ideals and the revival of the 
earlier despotism. Four years later the chief Italian States 
gave their consent to Sforza's possession of the Duchy at the 
Peace of Lodi, and in so doing they determined the basis of their 
mutual relations for the next forty years. During the first 
half of the fifteenth century each of the five chief States of 
Italy had experienced some important change. While Sforza 
was fighting for the Duchy of Milan, the Aragonese dynasty 
had replaced that of Anjou in Naples, and Florence had wit- 
nessed the rise to power of the Medici. Venice had, mean- 
while, become a mainland power, and the return of the Pope 
to Rome after the schism had emphasised the purely territorial 
aspect of the Papacy. Hence Italy had been involved in a 
long series of wars springing from these changes, in the course 
of which the Five States had marked out their boundaries, 
Now, in 1454, the days of expansion and conquest were over, 
and the States evolved the theory of the balance of power as 
the best way of preserving the peace of Italy. By means of 
alliances and counter alliances no one State would be allowed 
to grow strong at the expense of its neighbours. Thus, with 
the rulers of Italy at peace among themselves, they would 
be free from foreign intervention, and their resources could be 
devoted to improvement of their own dominions. The years 
between Sforza's accession and the Peace of Lodi form the 



Introduction to the new era. During that period the foreign 
policy of the House of Sforza was developed In all Its essential 
features, while the position of the new dynasty within the Duchy 
was determined. 

Although his marriage with Bianca Maria Visconti had 
first fixed Francesco Sforza's eyes upon Milan, it was clear that 
he owed the ducal throne mainly to his own sword. This, 
however, was a fact which Francesco would fain ignore. From 
the moment of his entry he acted as though he were the 
natural and legitimate successor of Fillppo Maria Visconti, 
whom adverse circumstances had temporarily deprived of his 
heritage. Nevertheless, Sforza could furnish no documentary 
evidence in support of his claim to Milan. It is true that a 
deed of gift existed In favour of Francesco and Bianca, pur- 
porting to be drawn up by the late Duke in November, 1446. 
Yet its* claims to authenticity 1 are of the smallest, and even if 
It were genuine, It would in no sense replace the imperial 
diploma upon which the Visconti Dukes had based their 
authority. To make up for this deficiency, Sforza must needs 
recognise explicitly that he owed his position to popular con- 
sent. In spite of Gaspare da Vimercate's intervention, the 
episode at the Porta Nuova had created a disagreeable impres- 
sion, which Francesco could not altogether ignore. Hence he 
remained only a few hours In Milan on that momentous 26th 
February. Ere nightfall he returned to the camp until a fresh 
draft of the capitulations had been submitted to him with the 
" common consent " of the citizens. On 28th February a de- 
putation once more waited upon Sforza at Vimercate and 
received from him a detailed confirmation of the revised 
capitulations. Francesco pledged himself to reduce the grist 
duty and the taxes on corn and wine, to fix the price of salt, 
to quarter no troops in the city, and to impose no fresh 
burdens of any kind. The Duke, moreover, must reside In 
Milan during eight months of the year, and all officials, save 
the Podesta, must be natives chosen from a list presented to 
the Duke by the community. All privileges and statutes were 

1 C/. Giampietro, D., La Pretesa donazione di Filippo Maria Visconti a 
Francesco Sforza. Arch. Stor. Lomb., 1876. Also Arch. Stor. Lomb., 1892, 
P- 386. 


confirmed, the Visconti debts were recognised, and It was 
solemnly declared that Milan, on Francesco Sforza 5 s death, 
should pass to no one save to Blanca Maria and her sons. 
Sforza's claim to rale coll autorith delpopolo was further strength- 
ened by what was at least the outward form of a popular 
election. On nth March the Vicar and Twelve issued a pro- 
clamation to the Ancients of the parishes, bidding them sum- 
mon one man from each household to the Court of Arengo. 
The big bell of the Broletto rang out, and the assembly gathered 
to give their consent to the following measures : the confirma- 
tion of the capitulations described above, the investiture of 
Francesco Sforza by the city of Milan, which claimed to have 
succeeded to the imperial rights, and the election of various 
citizens to take part in the elaborate ritual of the coronation, 
Cries of ^ Fiant" filled the air, and when the advocates of 
liberty were invited to record their dissent by standing forth 
from the crowd, cc all with one mind remained where they 
were". 1 Thus did the ancient traditions of liberty become the 
Instrument by which the despotism was Imposed upon the 
ruins of the Republic. 

Owing to the delay over the capitulations, and to the time 
that was spent In preparations for the ceremony, Francesco's 
coronation did not take place until nearly a month after his 
first entry Into Milan. Meanwhile Sforza had much to occupy 
Mm at Vimercate. On the evening of .26th February he 
arranged for the departure of four heralds, who were to carry 
his great news to the cities of Italy and to the chief European 
Courts, 2 The first went to Pavia, to acquaint Bianca, of her 
husband's success. From thence he had orders to proceed by 
way of Montferrat and Savoy to France and England. The 
second started for the Imperial Court, calling at various places 
on his route. A third went eastward to Cremona, Mantua and 
Venice. The fourth was despatched to Ferrara and Bologna, 

1 Formentini, Ducato di Milano, Doct. xxv. The preamble to this document 
is published for the first time by A. Colombo (op. cit., Arch. Stor. Lomb., 1905, 
Doct iv.). It gives a detailed account of events in Milan from 25th February 
until nth March, which has been followed here. 

2 Colombo, A., oj>* dt., Doct vi. 


and from thence to Florence 5 Siena, Rome and Naples. 
Among Francesco's first acts was a proclamation, authorising 
all cities under his rule to send supplies Into Milan free of toll. 
Cremona, Pavia and other towns poured In provisions. Within 
three days the citizens, who had lately been living upon dogs 
and rats, lacked nothing. Anxious not to Identify his rule 
with a party, Francesco treated his political foes with excep- 
tional moderation. Ossona and Applano were Imprisoned, 
and other prominent supporters of the Republic were relegated 
to Pavia, or to their country estates. Yet their punishment 
was of the shortest duration. Erasmo Trivulzio was released 
from prison in time to be knighted at the coronation, on which 
occasion many of Sforza's most active opponents were restored 
to favour. On Sunday, 22nd March, 1 all was ready, and Fran- 
cesco rode to the Porta TIcInese, accompanied by his wife, his 
brother Alessandro and his six-year-old son Galeazzo Maria. 
Here the chief citizens were gathered in order to escort the new 
Duke to the Duomo, beneath a magnificent white baldacchino^ 
embroidered with gold. Francesco, however, declined this 
honour, saying that such outward marks of dignity were the 
superstitions of kings. Riding at the side of the baldacchino^ 
Francesco made his way to the Piazza del Duomo, where a 
platform had been erected facing the Cathedral. The cere- 
mony opened with an oration by Guarnerlo Castlgllone, a 
former minister of the Visconti. Then, clad In the white 
coronation robes of his predecessors, Sforza was solemnly pro- 
claimed Duke of Milan. Seven of the leading citizens invested 
him with the ducal insignia. Gaspare da VImercate bore the 
sceptre, Antonio Trivulzio the standard, Pietro Pusterla the 
sword. A Visconti, a Borromeo, a Lampugnano and a Mar- 
llano presented respectively the cap, the collar, the cloak and 
the seal. Two representatives from each of the six gates 
tendered the keys of the city. Twelve more swore fealty, and 
the Piazza rang with shouts of " Viva il Duca ". Francesco's 
first act as Duke was to create his eldest son Count of Pavia, 
and Gaspare da Vimercate Count of Valenza. Before leaving 
the platform the Duke made a number of new knights, and 

1 Op. cit., Doct. vii. Simonetta says 25th March, 


listened to a second oration from Castiglione. Finally, the 
whole assembly moved Into the Duomo, where a solemn Te 
Deum closed the events of the day. 

Francesco's efforts to court popularity combined with the 
natural reaction against republicanism to produce general en- 
thusiasm In Ms favour. Prince and people alike made It their 
chief object to restore everything " as It was In the time of the 
deceased Duke J> . Thus the revival of those special attributes 
of the ducal constitution, the Secret Council and the Council 
of Justice, was tacitly assumed In the capitulations by the 
demand that they should not be removed from Milan. Even 
before he was established on the throne, Francesco drew up a 
list of ten persons who should sit in the Secret Council at the 
pleasure of the Duke (ad beneplacituw) y while four others were 
appointed to the Council of Justice. More than this, the 
Duke soon approached the citizens with a view to procuring 
from them a petition for the re-building of the Castello. It 
was not, Francesco said, that he doubted the loyalty of his sub- 
jects, but that the fortress might be an ornament to the city, 
and a security against external enemies. In vain did the 
lawyer, Giorgio Piatti, remind the people that Francesco was 
not Immortal, and that the Castello might, In the future, place 
them at the mercy of a cruel tyrant. In vain did he plead 
that princes should find their strongest fortresses In the love of 
their subjects. The people were carried away by the Impulse 
of the moment, and by July the work was already In progress. 
Thus originated the Castello Sforzesco which became, indeed, 
an ornament to the city, but which, far from being a security 
against foreign attack, was to prove on more than one occasion 
an effective weapon In the hands of the enemies of the Sforza 
dynasty. 1 

On the news that Milan had opened her gates to Sforza, the 
few cities which still remained loyal to the Ambrosian Republic 
at once recognised him as their lord, while the Venetians re- 
tired across the Adda, breaking the bridge which had served 
as their connection with the Milanese. It was obvious, how- 

1 Cf. Machiavelli, II Principe, cap. 20: "Alia casa Sforzesca ha fatto e 
far a put guerra, U Castello di Milang she alcun alfro di$ordine di quello Stato ", 


ever, that Venice would not thus easily acquiesce In Francesco's 
possession of the Duchy, and that In renewing hostilities she 
could reckon upon the support of others who saw In the acces- 
sion of Francesco Sforza the shattering of personal ambitions 
with regard to the Milanese State. Early in 1451 a league was 
formed between Venice, Naples, Savoy and Montferrat which 
was in Itself tantamount to a declaration of war. Against this 
formidable alliance Francesco could only set the friendship of 
Genoa and Mantua, two weak States which themselves needed 
protection, the one against the aggressions of Alfonso of Aragon, 
the other against Venice. Hence the fate of the Duchy de- 
pended largely upon the attitude of Florence. So far as Cosimo 
del Medici was concerned there was no uncertainty. Not only 
was he bound to Francesco Sforza by a friendship of fifteen 
years', standing, but he knew that a strong ruler In Milan could 
alone prevent the Venetian Republic from becoming the mistress 
of Lombardy. With 'the passes of the Alps and the Via 
./Emilia under the control of Venice, Florentine merchants 
would be practically cut off from the rest of Europe, and their 
trade would be ruined. Hence Cosimo furnished Sforza with 
pecuniary aid throughout the struggle for Milan, and would 
fain continue to support him upon the throne. Florence, how- 
ever, was not easily reconciled to a departure from the tradi- 
tional policy of an alliance with Venice, nor did a Republic, 
jealous for her own liberties, approve of aiding a powerful 
soldier to crush the liberties of a sister city. Thus the Republic 
would have preferred to remain neutral in the approaching 
struggle if the Venetians had not thrown her Into the arms of 
Sforza by driving all Florentine merchants from their territories. 
Venice had hoped by this to force Florence into active alliance 
against Milan, but the result of her action proved the reverse 
of what she had anticipated. From henceforth the Florentine- 
Milanese alliance became the mainstay of Francesco Sforza' s 
power and the most characteristic feature of his foreign policy. 
In any war with Alfonso of Aragon the idea of enlisting 
the sympathies of Anjou could not fail to arise. Already in 
1447 Ren< of Anjou had consulted Sforza as to the advisa- 
bility of an attack on Naples, Now, Cosimo del Medici pleaded 


for an active alliance, not only with Ren but with the French 
King. Charles VI L was eager to embark upon an aggressive 
policy in Ital} T . Therefore, urged Cosimo's envoy, to ally with 
Mm for the restoration of Anjou to Naples would be the best 
means of preventing a league between Alfonso and France in 
support of the Orleanist claims to Milan, Francesco } however, 
hesitated to bring the French into Italy. The Florentine am- 
bassador found him much averse to the French alliance, and he 
was only convinced of its necessity by the accumulation of 
forces, both external and internal, which threatened his position 
in the Duchy. Of Alfonso's bitter hostility Francesco was 
warned by Cosimo dei Medici himself, who wrote that the King 
of Aragon spoke freely of his hatred towards Sforza. Mean- 
while the Guelphs of the Duchy, encouraged by the assurances 
of Venice that she would spare no pains "to preserve the liberty 
of the people of Milan," I spent their days in hatching fresh plots 
against the Government More serious still was the corning 
of the Emperor Frederick III. to Italy in close alliance with 
Naples and Venice. Angry at the disregard of imperial rights 
involved in Francesco's accession, Frederick refused to visit 
Milan, and, contrary to all precedent, he received the crown 
of Lombardy from the hands of the Pope. Faced by such a 
coalition, Francesco could not but come to terms with Charles 
VII., who, for his part, welcomed an alliance which would benefit 
the loyal House of Anjou rather than Orleans, the ally of Bur- 
gundy. In February, 1452, a treaty was signed between France, 
Milan and Florence, by which Charles promised to send a Prince 
of the Blood to aid Sforza in return for assistance against the 
House of Aragon in Naples. It seemed as though the events 
of 1494 would be anticipated by forty years. 

In April, 1452, war began. The Duke of Milan solemnly 
unfurled his banners outside the Porta Romana to embark 
upon a final campaign with Venice upon the familiar battle- 
field between the Adda and the Mincio. The conflict, which 
was prolonged during the next two years 3 is singularly lacking 
in military interest. Its real importance lies in the distrust 

1 Rossi, L., Lega tra II Duca di Milano i "Piorentini e Carlo VI L t Re 4i 
Francia, Axch. Stor. Lomb,, 1906. 


of French aid which was gradually Implanted in Francesco's 
mind. In May, 1453, Rene of Anjou set out for Italy, while 
the Dauphin Louis appeared with a considerable force in 
Piedmont. Owing to the growing hostility between Charles 
VII. and his heir, the Dauphin's presence proved highly dis- 
turbing. He threatened Genoa, thereby depriving Rene of 
aid which would have facilitated his descent into Italy. He 
asserted vague claims to Milan based upon his descent from 
the Cis-Alpine Gauls. Finally he returned home, having 
negotiated with all Sforza's enemies in turn, and having also 
expressed his willingness to marry his daughter to one of 
Francesco's sons. Meanwhile Rene of Anjou made but slow 
progress. He did not reach Pavia until the middle of Sep- 
tember, and another fortnight had elapsed before he could be 
induced to set out for Sforza's camp. Bianca Maria exerted 
herself to do honour to her husband's ally, yet her letters 
reveal the extent to which her patience was tried. 1 Ren< got 
up late in the morning ; his troops were undisciplined ; the 
French, in short, cared for nothing but for feasts and enter- 
tainments, especially when they could get them at the expense 
of others. When at last Ren6 joined the Duke of Milan, the 
violence of the French soldiers and the scant authority pos- 
sessed by their leader made Francesco anxious to use them as 
little as possible. Matters reached a climax at the sack of 
Pontevico, when Sforza's troops turned on the French, in order 
to prevent the wholesale massacre of the inhabitants. The 
inevitable result was an increasing coldness between Sforza 
and Anjou. Ren6 began to complain that he was not suf- 
ficiently trusted, and that he was kept in a subordinate posi- 
tion. At the same time supplies from Florence began to 
fall off, and, in December, Rene announced his intention of 
returning home. He went nominally with the idea of return- 
ing in the spring fortified by fresh supplies. Nevertheless, he 
crossed the Alps, vowing in his heart that he would not set 
foot in Italy again. 

Meanwhile the news of the fall of Constantinople had turned 

1 Colombo, Prof. Ella, II Re Renato alleato del Duca Francesco Sforza contra i 
Veneziani. Arch. Stor. Lomb., 1894. 


all thoughts towards the East, and even before Rene's depar- 
ture the current had set in the direction of peace. Nicholas V. 
exerted himself to end the war in order that the combatants 
might unite in a crusade against the Turk. In October, 
1453, he summoned the Italian powers to a congress at Rome, 
threatening general excommunication if peace were not made. 
Two ambassadors from Milan attended the congress, yet their 
attitude was far from conciliatory. The terror inspired by the 
French troops had materially contributed to Francesco's suc- 
cess, and the Venetians held little west of the Mincio, save the 
three towns of Crema, Brescia and Bergamo. Hence the Duke 
of Milan could adopt a lofty attitude, saying that Venice had 
begun the war and had been worsted, therefore it was for her 
to sue for terms. Some months had been spent in fruitless 
negotiations when Italy was startled by the news that a 
separate peace had been concluded between the two chief 
belligerents at Lodi (pth April, 1454). In spite of their would- 
be obstinacy both Milan and Venice were in urgent need of 
peace. The successes of the Turk called the Venetians to the 
defence of their eastern dominions ; Francesco Sforza had 
received repeated warnings from Florence that supplies from 
this quarter must soon cease. Hence the Duke of Milan con- 
sented to yield his claims to Brescia, Bergamo and Crema, 
while Venice renounced that dearest object of her ambitions, 
the city of Cremona. The Ghiarad'adda was restored to Milan, 
and Francesco could congratulate himself upon this tangible 
result of the two years' campaign. Venice, however, save for 
the possession of Crema, was in no better position than she 
had been on the death of Filippo Maria Visconti. Such was 
the genius and perseverance of Francesco Sforza that she, who 
had hoped to rule Lombardy, gained one town after seven 
years of fighting. The Peace of Lodi forms, indeed, a fitting 
close to the military career which began so brilliantly beneath 
the walls of Aquila. Francesco bade his final farewell to the 
camp and the sword, with the promises of his youth triumph- 
antly fulfilled. 

'Room had been left for the inclusion of the allies of both 
parties in the Peace of Lodi, and before the end of the year all 


the Italian States except Naples had agreed to Its terms. To 
the Duke of Milan the Inclusion of Naples was both more 
difficult and more necessary than that of any other State. 
Francesco's great object was to secure for Italy a sufficient 
measure of unity to check the aggressive policy of Charles VII. 
Without Alfonso, who was most directly threatened by French 
claims, this would be Impossible. Yet by agreeing to the 
Peace of Lodi, Alfonso must not only renounce his pretensions 
to Milan, but must ally with the House of Sforza, the traditional 
supporter of the Angevin In Naples. In view of their past 
enmity, the alliance formed a revolution In policy both to 
Alfonso and Francesco. Nevertheless, both, In time, yielded 
to the pressure of Its advantages. The recent campaign had 
shown Sforza that the Angevin claims to Naples were closely 
connected with those of Orleans to Milan, and that to en- 
courage the one was a sure way of bringing the other Into 
prominence. It had also taught Alfonso that by pressing his 
claims to Milan he would drive Sforza Into the arms of France. 
Hence, In January, 1455, a league for twenty-five years was 
formed between Milan, Naples and Florence. The dual alliance 
became triple, and upon the friendly relations existing between 
these three powers rested the peace of Italy for many years to 

Francesco Sforza's admission into the circle of Italian 
princes was marked by a series of marriage alliances. As 
early as 1450 it had been agreed that Galeazzo Maria Sforza 
should marry a daughter of the Marquis of Mantua. Then, on 
the inclusion of Savoy in the Peace of Lodi, the Duke of 
Milan's second son, Filippo, was betrothed to Maria of Savoy. 
Finally, the Neapolitan alliance formed the occasion for a 
double betrothal between the Houses of Aragon and Sforza. 
The Duke of Milan promised the hand of his daughter Ippolita 
to young Alfonso, the grandson of the present King, while 
Leonora of Aragon was betrothed to Sforza Maria, Francesco's 
third son. Of all these alliances only one was destined to 
be fulfilled. Nevertheless, the mere fact of their conclusion 
formed a recognition of the new dynasty which greatly in- 
creased its stability. Although no betrothals could cement 


the friendship between Milan and the two Republics, the occa- 
sion was marked by a curious interchange of palaces. In 1447 
the house which Francesco occupied in Venice during his 
condottiere days was confiscated by the Republic. He now 
received in its stead a house near the Church of S. Polo which 
he exchanged a few years later for a palace on the Grand 
Canal, known to-day as the " Ca J Duca "^ At the same time 
Francesco presented Cosimo dei Medici with a house in Milan 
as a recognition of all that he owed to his friendship. This 
was the famous Medici Bank which for the next thirty years 
played a prominent part in the artistic history of Milan. In 
1484 however, Lorenzo dei Medici's financial difficulties forced 
him to sell the house for four thousand ducats, a transaction 
which he performed "with tears in his eyes". 2 

The Duke of Milan was particularly anxious that the for- 
mation of the Triple Alliance should involve no open breach 
between Milan and the French King. Fearing that Charles 
VII. might be offended at the failure of Rent's expedition, 
Francesco urged upon Cosimo dei Medici the necessity of some 
propitiatory measure. Thereupon a letter \vas despatched to 
Charles praising the * valour, prudence and diligence " of his 
cousin, and expressing eternal gratitude for the loan of his 
services. 3 Francesco also took pains to excuse his alliance 
with Naples to Charles VII., on the ground that it was neces- 
sary for the preservation of his dominions. Thanks to this 
diplomacy, the Duke of Milan flattered himself that an excellent 
understanding existed between himself, the French King and 
the Duke of Orleans. "We know ourselves to be loved by 
His Majesty as if we were his sons," wrote Francesco in April, 
1456, "while we hold him in such honour and reverence as if 
he were our father and lord." 4 Nevertheless, the maintenance 
of these friendly relations became increasingly difficult owing 
to the continued attacks of Alfonso of Aragon upon Genoa. 

1 C/. Beltrami, L., La Ca del Duca ed alive reminiscenze Sforzesche in 
Vmezia. Milan, 1900. 

2 Gmcciardinl, F., Storia Fiorentina* Op. inect, vol. iii., p. 88. 

3 Colombo, Prof. Ella, op. cit. 

4 MorbIo C., Codice Visconteo-Sfarzesco, 1390-1497. 


Castello S/orsestv, Mi!a;i 


*ary of being besieged by the King of Naples In the Interests 
the Adorni, the rival faction of FregosI offered Genoa to 
arles VII. Francesco Sforza had warned Alfonso that 
ne's son, John of Calabria, was working to that end, and he 
y sent four embassies to France In the hope of impeding the 
jotiations. Despite his efforts John of Calabria became 
;utenant-General of Genoa for Charles VII. In February, 
;8. Four months later the pressure on Genoa relaxed 
h the death of Alfonso. The reason for the French Pro- 
torate had gone, but John of Calabria remained to stir up 
those claims on Italy which Francesco Sforza would fain 
re lulled to rest 

The death of Alfonso of Aragon In June, 1458, produced 
h complications In the field of Italian politics. While his 
edltary dominions passed to his brother, the Kingdom of 
pies was left to his Illegitimate son, Ferrante, whose succes- 
i was opposed by John of Calabria and the majority of the 
apolltan baronage. Cosimo del Medici, true to the tra- 
onal Florentine policy of friendship with France, counselled 

Duke of Milan to renounce the Neapolitan alliance and to 
ke himself " the leader and guide of the French in Italy ". 
osimo Is sorry," wrote Nicoderno da Pontremoll to Fran- 
co Sforza, "that Madonna Ippolita should fall Into the hands 
the Catalans, and especially Into those of him to whom she 
etrothed. . . . Even though the Duke of Calabria Is nearly 
ty, he seems to him a kind gentleman and a man of worth, 
D would be much more suitable in every respect to the afore- 
1 Madonna, especially as women grow old far more quickly 
n men." l John of Calabria realising the influence which the 
ke of Milan possessed In Genoa was eager for the match, 
: Francesco would not be deterred from his chosen path. 

resolved to abide by the Triple Alliance even though It 
uld force him Into conflict with France. Together with the 
Ay elected Pope Plus I L, Francesco threw himself upon the 
* of Ferrante, whose final triumph was due In large measure 
their unwavering support. Francesco's Influence, although 
ould not place Florence actively on the side of Aragon, was 
Sorbelli, A., Francesco Sfonsa a Genoa, 1458-66. Doct. i. Bologna, 1901. 


at least sufficient to prevent the Republic from aiding Anjou. 
Moreover, Sforza rendered active assistance to Ferrante by 
sending his brother Alessandro to share in the Neapolitan cam- 
paign. Yet his chief sphere of opposition to the Angevin was 
necessarily Genoa. In 1459 a Milanese force aided Archbishop 
Fregoso in an attack upon John of Calabria which aimed at 
crushing him before he could reach Naples. The result was a 
victory for the Duke, who left for Naples without further delay. 
His departure proved fatal to the French cause in Genoa. 
Adorni and Fregosi combined, during his absence, in a popular 
rising which drove the French governor into the Castelletto 
and placed the city in the hands of the insurgents. If the 
intrigues of Francesco Sforza had helped to procure this re- 
bellion, his efforts undoubtedly secured its success. He did 
his utmost to keep the peace between the rival factions. He 
lent money and artillery to carry on the siege of the Castelletto. 
Finally, when in July, 1461, Rene of Anjou made a desperate 
attempt to relieve the French garrison, it was the arrival of 
reinforcements from Milan which ensured the victory of the 
Genoese. Ren6 was forced to retire to Savona, complaining 
bitterly of the Duke of Milan, whom he held to be primarily 
responsible for his defeat 

Francesco's opposition to the Angevin in Genoa could not 
fail to incur the displeasure of Charles VII. The evil effects 
of his hostility were, however, neutralised by the friendly 
attitude of the Dauphin, whom opposition to his father and 
hatred of his Angevin cousins rendered the champion of the 
Triple Alliance. In 1454 Louis had been active in promoting 
the peace between Milan and Savoy. On the outbreak of the 
Neapolitan war, he went so far as to propose a league between 
himself, the Duke of Burgundy, Ferrante of Naples and 
Francesco Sforza. 1 This singular combination was never 
actually formed, but, in December, 1460, the Dauphin con- 
cluded a treaty with the Duke of Milan, by which he recog- 
nised Sforza's claims to the Duchy at the expense of those of 
Orleans, while both parties promised mutual assistance against 

1 For the relations "between Louis and Sforza at this period, ef< Sorbelli, op. 


all enemies. It was expressly stipulated that this treaty should 
remain In force when Louis succeeded his father upon the 
throne. Nevertheless, Charles VII.'s death in July, 1461, caused 
a temporary breach between Francesco and the new monarch. 
Louis XI., to abide by his treaty with Milan, must alienate the 
Houses of Orleans and Anjou from the French crown, while 
he must forego the prospect of recovering Genoa. These 
sacrifices he was not at first prepared to make, and the terms 
which he proposed to the Duke of Milan demanded a whole- 
sale recognition of the French claims on Italy. Francesco 
must compensate Orleans with territory or money, he must 
renounce his alliance with Ferrante, and must aid in reducing 
Genoa to obedience. For Francesco the situation was difficult 
in the extreme. It seemed as though he must choose between 
abject submission and renewed hostility to the King of France 
without the existence of a Dauphin to equalise the struggle. 
By careful diplomacy he contrived to do neither one thing nor 
the other. After two years of negotiation Louis XL decided 
that alliance with the Duke of Milan suited his purpose better 
than an aggressive policy in Italy. Since the defeat of John 
of Calabria by Ferrante and Alessandro Sforza at Troya in 
August, 1462, the cause of Anjou in Naples had become practi- 
cally hopeless. Moreover, Genoa, even should it be recovered 
for France, would prove a drain on her resources which did not 
commend itself to Louis XL's parsimony. Hence in December, 
1463, he agreed to invest Francesco with the fiefs of Genoa 
and Savona, and to renew their former alliance. Savona was 
promptly handed over, while Louis XL called upon his Italian 
allies to aid in placing his chosen representative, the Duke of 
Milajjj, in "possession of Genoa. 

Before Francesco could enjoy the fruits of his new acquisi- 
tion he must needs enforce his authority upon those very 
citizens whom he had aided to throw off the yoke of the 
foreigner. Of these the chief was Archbishop Fregoso, who, 
by process of driving out all rival candidates, had himself taken 
possession of the Dogeship, and saw no reason to yield it. 
Fortunately for the Duke of Milan, Genoa soon grew tired of 
the Archbishop's despotic rule. Savona became the head- 


quarters of a rapidly increasing band of exiles from Genoa* 
while within the city cries in favour of Sforza began to arise. 
At length in March, 1464, the Archbishop resolved to depart. 
Having fitted out four vessels with men and provisions he ex- 
changed the career of Doge for that of pirate, thus enabling 
Gaspare da Vimercate to occupy Genoa with slight resistance. 
Twenty-four citizens, drawn from among both nobles and 
people, went to Milan to swear fealty to Francesco, and to 
tender him the keys of Genoa. With the capitulation of the 
Castelletto in June Francesco's triumph was complete. Yet 
another part of the Visconti dominions had passed to the 
House of Sforza. Before the end of the year Archbishop 
Fregoso abandoned the high seas and made his peace with the 
Duke of Milan. Genoa, meanwhile, settled down to a period 
of unwonted peace and prosperity under the wise government 
of her new lord. 

This same year, 1464, saw the termination of the struggle 
in Naples, Defeated both by land and sea, Rene of Anjou 
and his son set sail for France, leaving Ferrante in undisputed 
possession of the kingdom. Ferrante was fully sensible of the 
debt which he owed to the Duke of Milan, and he hastened to 
express his gratitude in a tangible form by investing his son, 
Sforza Maria, with the Duchy of Bari. Strangely enough this 
Neapolitan fief was to remain in the hands of the House of 
Sforza longer than any part of their Lombard dominions. 
Twenty years after the death of the last Sforza Duke of Milan, 
Bona Sforza, Dowager-Queen of Poland, and the sole repre- 
sentative of her race, returned to end her days upon her 
hereditary estates at Bari. 

Francesco was now at the zenith of his power and prosper- 
ity. Nevertheless, his triumphs had been won at the cost of 
certain blemishes upon his reputation. His control over the 
Duchy was completed at the expense of two among the cap- 
tains who had aided his rise. His alliance with Louis XL in- 
volved the repudiation of the marriage contract between his 
son and Dorotea Gonzaga. His championship of Ferrante of 
Naples laid him open to the charge of complicity in the murder 
of Piccinino. In 1450 Carlo Gonzaga joined Guglielmo of 


Montferrat in his prison at Pavla on a charge of conspiring 
with Venice against Sforza. Carlo was furious at Francesco's 
alliance with his brother and rival the Marquis of Mantua, and 
there is no reason to suppose that either he or Guglielmo was 
unjustly accused. Francesco, however, seized the opportunity 
to recover Alessandria and Tortona for himself. To make his 
prisoners purchase their liberty by renouncing the reward of 
their past services was a piece of sharp practice which gave 
colour to the opinion that the whole episode was planned by 
Francesco for the express purpose of recovering the two cities. 
Yet the worst that can be proved against Francesco is that he 
failed to be generous, a fault that sinks into insignificance 
beside the sordid details of the Gonzaga marriage negotiations. 
The betrothal of Galeazzo Maria Sforza to Dorotea Gonzaga 
had been a matter of policy, and policy dictated the non-fulfil- 
ment of the bond. It is only distinguished from a hundred 
other such cases by the brutal fashion in which a helpless girl 
was sacrificed to reasons of State. Galeazzo Maria was origin- 
ally betrothed to Susanna, the eldest daughter of the Marquis 
of Mantua, but in 1457 Gonzaga informed the Milanese am- 
bassador that the girl had developed a deformed spine, and 
offered to substitute Dorotea in her stead. The offer was 
accepted, and from henceforth Galeazzo was constantly in 
Dorotea's society. When, however, Louis XL expressed his 
desire that the future Duke of Milan should marry Bona of 
Savoy, the French King's sister-in-law, Francesco resolved to 
break off the Mantuan engagement. Acting upon a report 
that Dorotea was deformed in the same way as her sister, 
doctors were sent from Milan in order to examine her. It is 
probable that Dorotea had inherited something of the de- 
formity common in her family, yet the arrival of the Milanese 
doctors at a time when rumours of the Savoyard marriage had 
already reached Mantua, left little room for doubt as to the 
true reason which prompted the investigation. Gonzaga flatly 
refused to allow his daughter to be examined, and it seemed 
as if the whole scheme were at an end. The re-opening of 
negotiations was chiefly due to the Duchess Bianca, who did 
everything in her power to further the match. Yet neither 


Francesco nor Galeazzo could be weaned from the French 
alliance, and Blanca's efforts only prolonged the affair until 
1467, when Dorotea's death of fever freed Galeazzo from his 
Ill-fated bride. 1 

More serious is Francesco's alleged share in the murder of 
Piccinino. Yet the charge agrees so little with the general con- 
ception of his character as to be on the face of It open to ques- 
tion. The facts of the case are well known. Jacopo Piccinino 
had fought on the side of Anjou throughout the Neapolitan 
campaign, but on its conclusion he made his peace with Fer- 
rante, through the mediation of Alessandro Sforza. Piccinino 
then went to Milan and was married to Francesco's Illegitimate 
daughter, Drusiana, to whom he had long been betrothed. In 
the spring of 1465 he returned to Naples, accompanied by a 
Milanese escort, and apparently In high favour with both King 
and Duke. Ferrante's favour proved, however, to be but a 
trap to lure him to his fate. Soon after his arrival Piccinino 
was Imprisoned in the Castel Nuovo and in a month's time 
he had ceased to live. There Is no doubt that he was foully 
murdered, yet It is almost equally certain that the Duke of 
Milan did not share Ferrante's guilt. Francesco had suffered 
much from Piccmino's treachery in former years, and the cries 
of " Braccio " which his presence in Milan evoked could not 
have been pleasing to a Sforza. Nevertheless, the attempt to 
magnify Francesco's obvious desire for Piccmino's departure 
Into a deep-laid plot against his rival's life, commits the Duke 
to methods altogether too cumbersome and elaborate to be 
convincing. If Francesco had really desired Piccmino's death 
he would hardly have allowed him to travel the length of Italy 
before achieving his purpose. At the same time, If Francesco 
is assumed to be guilty his letters of protest against Piccmino's 
Imprisonment, his promises to Druslana that every effort should 
be made for her husband's release, and the excuses which his 
complaints called forth from Ferrante carry the art of dissimu- 
lation to heights unknown even In fifteenth-century Italy. It 
Is far simpler to accept Francesco's indignation as genuine, and 
to conclude that the man who, during the struggle in the March 
* C/. Davari, S., II Matrimonlo di Doroteg, Gonzaga. Genoa, 1890, 


of Ancona, had refused to allow the elder Piccinino to be 
removed from his path by foul means, had not so far forgotten 
the condottiere code of honour as to become a party to the 
murder of his son. When the direful news reached Milan 
Ippolita Sforza was already on her way to Naples as the bride 
of Alfonso. Francesco immediately ordered the bridal party 
to remain at Siena, and it seemed doubtful whether the marriage 
would take place. Yet the Neapolitan alliance was precious, 
and after two months Ippolita was allowed to proceed. As 
nothing could restore Piccinino to life, it was a pity to quarrel 
with a hard-won ally. Such was the Duke of Milan's view of 
the matter, a view which, in its cold-blooded common-sense, is 
as characteristic of Francesco's nature as a long premeditated 
act of treachery and vengeance is foreign to it 1 

During the last year of Francesco's reign an opportunity 
arose for him to prove the value of his friendship to Louis XI. 
As he had aided Ferrante against the Neapolitan baronage, so 
now he supported Louis XI. against the Princes of the Blood 
banded together in the League of Public Weal. In April, 
1465, the Duke of Milan offered to send Galeazzo Maria to 
France at the head of some 4,000 horse and 1,000 foot, to be 
employed by Louis XL as he thought fit 2 Louis accepted 
with effusion, and asked that the Italians might be sent to 
Dauphin6 and Lyonais to defend those provinces against the 
Burgundians. Francesco's chief difficulty was to raise the 
necessary funds. Although the expedition won the approval 
of the other members of the Triple Alliance, they were not 
prepared to finance it. Hence it was not until the beginning 
of August that Galeazzo set out for France accompanied by 
Gaspare da Vimercate, with whom rested the real responsibility 

1 Francesco himself anticipated the charges brought against him. See his 
letters to the Milanese ambassadors in Naples. " This news has filled us with 
the greatest possible grief, anger and bitterness . . . for we recognise the great 
trouble and infamy which will follow from it both to the King and ourselves. 
. . . No one will be persuaded that what His Majesty has done against 
Piccinino, was not done with our participation or with our consent and 
favour." Portioli, A., La movie di jfacopo Piccinino. Arch. Stor. Lomb, 3 
3:878. Cf. also Canetta, C. Arch. Stor. Lomb., 1882. 

%Cf. Ghinzoni, P. ? Sfefaqione Sforzesca in Francia. Milano, 1890, 


for the expedition. The nature of the task entrusted to them 
and the absence of cannon prevented the Italians from achiev- 
ing any notable success. Nevertheless, their presence kept the 
two provinces loyal, while they created a diversion from the 
war in Normandy by forcing Bourbon and Burgundy to look 
to the defence of their own dominions. After several suc- 
cessful raids upon Bourbon territory, proceedings were stayed 
by a general trace terminating in the Treaty of Conflans. 
Profiting by Francesco's advice, Louis XL had changed the 
public weal into the individual weal by means of separate 
negotiations with the rebel princes. The war was virtually at 
an end, and a French embassy started for Italy to thank the 
Duke of Milan for the services which he had rendered. Mean- 
while Galeazzo Maria retired to winter quarters at Vienne. 
Negotiations for his marriage with Bona of Savoy were in pro- 
gress, and he hoped in the spring to visit his future bride at the 
Court of France. When the spring came Galeazzo had no 
time to spend upon love-making. On 8th March Francesco 
Sforza breathed his last, and his son must needs hurry across 
the Alps to make good his claim to the Duchy of Milan. 

Although Francesco claimed a popular basis for his rule in 
Milan, his internal government was essentially monarchial in 
character. In the capitulations of 1450 two clauses at least 
breathe the spirit of the territorial prince, who aimed at bring- 
ing every inhabitant of the State beneath his immediate con- 
trol. There should be no private jurisdictions or exemptions 
in the Duchy save that of the Fabbrica del Duomo. Secondly, 
no subject might accept titles or privileges, whether from Pope 
or Emperor, without the consent of the Duke. It was possible 
that the Duke might find a serious rival to his authority in 
Milan in the person of the Archbishop. Hence when the See 
became vacant in 1454 Francesco contrived that his brother 
Gabriele should be appointed, an arrangement which prevented 
all friction between the ecclesiastical and the secular power. 
From the frequent appointment of friends and relations of the 
House of Sforza to the chief Sees of the Duchy, it is evident 
that the papal choice could be moulded according to the will 
of the reigning prince. Among the most characteristic de- 


velopments of Francesco's government was the Importance of 
his secretary, Cecco SImonetta, upon whom devolved more and 
more of the actual business of State. SImonetta was especi- 
ally active In the sphere of foreign politics, where he drafted 
despatches. Issued Instructions to ambassadors, and received 
the written reports of their mission. The Milanese nobles 
soon looked askance at the employment of this low-born 
stranger, so much so that Gaspare da VImercate ventured to 
plead with the Dnke for his dismissal " If I lose him I must 
have another Cecco In his place, even If I have to make him 
out of wax," was Francesco's oft-quoted reply. Francesco 
Sforza's rule forms a typical example of the Italian despotism 
at Its best. It was a despotism in that It regarded the people 
merely as a useful Instrument In the hands of the Duke; It 
was beneficent In that It aimed consistently at furthering the 
prosperity of the Duchy and the welfare of Its Inhabitants. 
Among the most valuable of Francesco's undertakings were 
his efforts to Improve the waterways of the Duchy. As 
FIHppo Maria VIsconti brought Milan Into connection with the 
Tlcino, so now Francesco brought the waters of the Adda to 
the capital by means of the Martesana Canal. The work 
necessitated elaborate engineering, which was well repaid by 
the advantages gained from the canal both by Milan and 
the country through which It flowed. In view of Francesco's 
constant lack of money, It Is all the more to his credit that he 
abolished such doubtful means of raising money as the sale of 
offices and the system of lotteries. Thanks to the first of these 
reforms, Francesco was able to exercise some discretion in the 
choice of his subordinates, and In Pavia his reign was noted 
for the good men he sent thither as Podesta. Above all, 
Francesco earned the gratitude of his subjects as the founder 
of the great hospital In Milan. The scheme was carried out 
under the auspices of Pius II., who placed the hospital under 
the control of a body of directors appointed by the Archbishop, 
the Duke and his heirs being made perpetual patrons. As 
soon as the papal diploma had been obtained, the Duke and 
Duchess of Milan laid the foundation-stone upon the site of a 
Visconti palace which they had yielded for the purpose. The 


hospital was open to all nationalities and all religions, and 
it absorbed Into itself the hospitals already existing In the 
diocese of Milan. As time went on other benefactors arose 
to enlarge and improve it, but even in Francesco's reign it 
was held to be " so well built and arranged that it had not 
its equal in Europe". Standing as it does to-day in the 
Via Francesco Sforza, the hospital has proved the most 
abiding witness to the era of the House of Sforza, with the 
exception of the Castello, almost the sole survival of their 
rule in Milan. 

c< This Prince was most dear and acceptable to both nobles 
and people." Such is Cagnola's opinion with regard to Fran- 
cesco Sforza, and his verdict is substantiated by contemporary 
and modern historians alike. Nevertheless, it must be remem- 
bered that almost all contemporaries who saw the Duchy of 
Milan from the inside were adherents of the House of Sforza. 
Moreover, in so far as the chroniclers of the day were unbiassed, 
they probably judged chiefly from what they saw in Milan 
itself. Hence they make no mention of the very real discon- 
tent which existed in many of the subject-towns and which, at 
one moment, seemed likely to show itself in open rebellion. 
In 1461 Francesco became seriously ill. Reports of his death 
spread throughout the Duchy causing general agitation and 
bringing into prominence all elements of disturbance within 
his dominions. At Piacenza the news proved the signal for 
a rising, which was only crushed at the cost of considerable 
bloodshed. The effect of this rebellion was to make Francesco 
institute a careful inquiry with a view to discovering both the 
principal conspirators and also the general state of feeling in 
the Duchy. The information thus obtained showed Sforza's 
captain, Tiberto Brandolini, to be the prime mover in the 
agitation. Convicted of intriguing with Borso d'Este and with 
John of Calabria for the possession of Piacenza, or some other 
town in the Duchy, he was promptly executed. Other con- 
spirators, including one of Francesco's illegitimate sons, were 
imprisoned, and the whole movement fizzled out, It is now 
chiefly important for the report on the political condition of 
the Duchy, tendered to Francesco by Antonio Vailati on the 


conclusion of his inquiry. 1 VailatI visited all the chief towns 
under Sforza's rule, gleaning information not only from the 
local officials but from Innkeepers, doctors, peasants, from any 
one, in fact, with whom he had an opportunity to converse. 
He found much that was highly unfavourable to the existing 
Government. Factions were everywhere rife, and in many 
places the Guelphs were far more powerful than the Ghibel- 
lines. Whether they looked to Venice, as in the towns east of 
Milan such as Lodi and Casalmaggiore, or to France, as on the 
western frontiers of the Duchy, the Guelphs were invariably 
Dpposed to Sforza. On the other hand, the Ghibellines in 
Tortona and its neighbourhood divided their allegiance be- 
tween Sforza and the Marquis of Montferrat. Local lords who 
would profit by the dismemberment of the Duchy fostered 
sedition in the towns within their sphere of influence. Thus 
Parma and its district were agitated by the intrigues of Man- 
fredo da Correggio, and Vailati considered that no city was 
more likely to cause disturbance. Of the neighbouring Cas- 
telnuovo, he wrote : " There is no one in this place who wishes 
to remain under Your Highness's rule ". On the rumour of 
Francesco's death, Niccolo Pallavicino came to Borgo San 
Donino, announcing that he wished to furnish his house. He 
did his best to corrupt both Podesta and Castellan, while by 
means of lavish hospitality he obtained a considerable following 
in the town, " such as will aid him to do every evil ". Even 
where the local lords adhered to Sforza, he sometimes suffered 
from their unpopularity, as, for instance, in Pellegrino, where 
the opposition of the citizens was directed mainly against Pietro 
Maria Rossi's control of the fortress. In Tortona the news of 
Francesco's critical condition rendered the Guelphs "as gay as 
if they were dressed for a feast ". When French troops passed 
through the town to the relief of the Castelletto at Genoa, they 
were greeted with delight, and the citizens confidently expected 
a French occupation. " We conclude that there is nothing to 
build upon, because there is no love." Such was Vailati's 

1 Cf. Ghinzoni, P., Informazioni politiche sul Ducato di Milano t 1461. 
Arch, Stor. Lomb., 1892. 


verdict upon the city, and It could be applied with equal truth 
to the majority of places which he visited. Of Cremona, how- 
ever, the report was far more satisfactory. The news of Fran- 
cesco's death gained little credence, from the fact that it was 
not confirmed by those citizens who had posts at the Court and 
who saw the Duke every day. Most people professed them- 
selves well content with the existing Government, saying that 
they had never seen Cremona more beautiful and prosperous. 
There was considerable discontent at the pressure of taxation, 
but if this could be lightened " Sforza would be the best loved 
and the most desired lord in the world ". Vailati makes no 
mention of either Milan or Pavia, yet it is clear from other 
evidence that they shared the opinion of Cremona. The reason 
is not hard to discover. For more than ten years now Francesco 
had made his home in Milan, and the citizens had come to regard 
him with pride and affection. The same may be said of Pavia, 
which had opened her gates to Francesco at the first oppor- 
tunity, and which had since been a favourite ducal residence. 
Cremona, too, as the dowry town of Bianca Maria and the scene 
of her wedding, was marked out for special attention. Thus 
all three towns were bound by close personal ties to the House 
of Sforza. They knew Francesco, his wife and his children as 
friends, whereas such places as Piacenza, or the comparatively 
lately conquered district of the Oglio, knew him only as a 
conqueror. In Italy the personal bond was all-important, and 
where it was lacking loyalty was the exception rather than the 
rule. It is probable that the taxation complained of in Cre- 
mona was a real burden to many of Francesco's subjects. At 
the beginning of the reign the country was still exhausted by 
the long war, and as the taxes were mainly raised upon food 
they fell heavily upon the lower classes. Moreover, the sup- 
port of a new dynasty necessitated the maintenance of an 
army out of proportion to the size and revenues of the Duchy. 
On the other hand, the good order which Francesco enforced 
throughout his dominions greatly increased their prosperity. 
Vailati learned that the peasants could now put money in their 
pockets by breeding pigs and poultry, whereas during the 
Visconti era all these things had been taken from them by 


force. Such was the decrease in robbery that a man could 
travel In safety through the country with gold In his hand. As 
in the camp so In the Duchy 5 Francesco aimed at maintaining 
strict discipline and impartial justice. The measure of success 
which he achieved must be reckoned among his claims to the 
gratitude of his subjects. 

The Court of Milan during the reign of the first Sforza 
Duke presented a picture of domestic life remarkable both for 
its happiness and for Its simplicity. Francesco and Bianca had 
eight children. Galeazzo, Ippolita, Fillppo and Sforza were 
born while their father was still fighting his way to the throne. 
Lodovico, Ascamo, Elisabetta and Ottaviano came after his ac- 
cession. For some years Alessandro Sforza's daughter Battlsta 
was added to the family party. Left motherless at eighteen 
months, she was educated with her cousin and contemporary 
Ippolita until, In 1460, she married Francesco's old ally 
Federico of Urbino. During her husband's last war with 
Venice Bianca lived chiefly with her mother in the Castello of 
Pavia. Later on the old VIsconti palace In Milan, known as 
the Court of Arengo, became the principal residence of the 
Duke. It was, however, In such a dilapidated condition that 
some years passed before it could be made habitable. The 
Castello of Milan remained nothing more than a fortress 
throughout Francesco's lifetime, but its park and gardens 
formed a favourite hunting-ground for the Duke and his 
sons. Besides Milan and Pavia there were the Castles of 
Abblategrasso and Vigevano, whither the Court retired for 
change of air and country life. All the arrangements of the 
Court were simple and even primitive. In 1463 Bianca had 
four ladies-in-waiting and Ippolita one. Nobles, secretaries 
and chamberlains were all lodged in the palace, yet the ex- 
penses of the household amounted to less than twenty-two 
thousand ducats a year. On one occasion Galeazzo was ex- 
pected to arrive In Milan with the Marquis of Mantua on a 
Saturday. Francesco thereupon wrote to him that he must 
delay his entry, " for on that day the ladies will be washing their 
hair and the troops have their work to do". Hence it would 


be better to spend Saturday at Lodi and to enter Milan on 
Sunday when everybody would be infesta} 

Francesco was himself no great scholar, yet he was an 
ardent admirer of learning, and both he and Bianca took the 
keenest interest in their children's education. Many of the 
most prominent men of letters of the day were numbered 
among their tutors, including the Greek scholar Lascaris, the 
poet Valagussa and the humanist Barzizza. Baldo Martorelli, 
pupil of the famous Vittorino da Feltre, after teaching Ippolita 
as a child, accompanied her to Naples, where he remained as 
the secretary of his former pupil. Even the great Filelfo was 
pressed into the service, and wrote a treatise upon Galeazzo's 
education. Owing to his insistence upon the equal develop- 
ment of mind and body, the boy's day was carefully divided 
between intellectual studies, which Included theology, classics 
and the art of government, and physical exercises, such as 
dancing, riding, fencing, and the favourite Italian game of 
pallone. When Bianca was absent from her children she re- 
quired full reports of their progress. In 14.57 Guinforte 
Barzizza 2 wrote to Inform the Duchess that Galeazzo had 
taken some medicine "joyfully and without any opposition or 
sign of annoyance," which conduct was judged by the worthy 
humanist to proceed from a well-regulated mind. When, In 
1466, Lodovico was living with his tutor at Cremona, he was 
required to write a Latin letter to his mother every week. 
The most notable accomplishment acquired by the young 
Sforza was the art of making suitable orations at State cere- 
monies. In 1452 the eight-year-old Galeazzo was sent to 
Ferrara to convey his father's greetings to the Emperor In the 
form of an oration composed by Filelfo. Frederick III. pro- 
nounced this feat to be nothing less than miraculous, and 
Galeazzo won similar praises for the two Latin orations which 
he made at Venice, In 1455, In honour of the Peace of Lodi. 
Ippolita was no less fluent than her brother. Her Latin 

1 Beltrami, L., La Vita nel Castello di Milano al tempo degli Sforza, p. 16. 
Milano, 1900. 

2 Cappelli } A,, Guinforte Barzizza, Maestro di Galeazzo Maria Sforza, 
Arch, Stor. Lomb., 1894. 


speech to Pius II. at the Diet of Mantua called forth a de- 
lighted reply from the Pope, whom past experience had ren- 
dered an authority upon the subject. Sometimes singing took 
the place of speeches. On the occasion of Rene of Anjou's 
visit to Milan in 1453, the children entertained him with 
French songs which they had been taught for his benefit 
The care which Francesco and Bianca bestowed upon their 
children's education did not confine itself to learning. The 
young Sforza were made to write essays on such practical 
subjects as the following: "In what way, according to what 
rules, and with what artifices are treaties formed between 
princes ? " l Bianca would remind their tutors that their task 
was to form princes rather than men of letters, and she herself 
spared no pains to incline her children towards "justice, bene- 
volence, humanity and courtesy J) . Francesco's efforts in this 
direction are set forth in the letter of advice which he addressed 
to Galeazzo in 1457. These " Suggerimenti di buon vivere^^ 
present Francesco's character in a new and singularly attractive 
light. Instead of the soldier-Duke, hardened by long years of 
fighting and scheming, they reveal an affectionate father, all 
anxiety for his son's welfare, and showing both wisdom and 
delicacy of feeling in the means by which he sought to promote 
it. "Galeazzo," begins this curious document, "you know that 
until now we have never been angry with you, nor have we 
given you a single blow." The reason of this gentle treat- 
ment is that Galeazzo has hitherto been merely a child, and 
that it has given Francesco an opportunity for observing his 
natural disposition both for good and for evil. Now, however, 
Galeazzo is old enough to distinguish between right and wrong, 
and his father hastens to set forth the rules of conduct which 
he must observe if he would keep the good opinion of his 
parents. Francesco has endeavoured to " fill the office of a 
good father," and now Galeazzo must play the part of a good 
son by remembering and carrying out the instructions which 
his father is about to give him. In so doing he will be blessed 

1 Pasolini, Caierina Sforza, vol. i., p. 23. Rome, 1893. 
2 1 suggevimenti di buon vivere dettati da Francesco Sforza pel figliuolo 
Maria, pubblicati a cura di Domenico Orano. Rome, 1901. 


by God and by his parents, and will win universal favour. 
There follows a list of ten precepts ranging over an odd variety 
of subjects. Galeazzo must do honour to God and to the 
Church ; he must be respectful and obedient to his parents, to 
"Messer Guinforte" and to all other good and wise people; 
he must show politeness to all according to their rank, " whether 
with cap or with head or with knee " ; he must be pleasant of 
speech with all, not forgetting his own servants ; he must keep 
his hands under control and not lose his temper at every trifle ; 
he must cultivate the justice and mercy which befits a ruler ; 
he must not wish for everything which he sees, and he must 
learn to do without that which he cannot get by honest means ; 
he must not practice deceit, nor tell lies, nor pay attention to 
slander and evil speaking ; he must eat and drink nicely and 
In moderation ; in view of his love of riding he must choose 
good horses. Such was Francesco's philosophy of life, a quaint 
mixture of morality, political expediency and common-sense, 
set forth with the utmost naifvety and good faith for the 
guidance of his son. Well would It have been for his subjects 
If Galeazzo had followed Ms father's maxims. 

The simplicity of their habits rendered the Duke and 
Duchess of Milan more than usually accessible to their subjects. 
Francesco's long years of active life made it impossible for him 
to do without exercise, and he was to be seen every day riding 
through Milan on his way to hunt in the Park of the Castello, 
or to Inspect the building going on there and at the hospital. 
He had a friendly reply for all the salutations addressed to him, 
and he would greet many of the citizens by name. Francesco 
liked to dine In company, and, besides the invited guests, any- 
one was free to come and lay petitions before him at this hour. 
At the end of dinner the children would come in from their walk 
to say good-night to the Duke before retiring to their own,3part- 
ments. Bianca, as the last of the Visconti, played a more pro- 
minent part In theState than she would have done under ordinary 
circumstances. She was held to be " most gracious in giving 
audience/' she visited the chief citizens In their own homes, and 
she won all hearts by her frequent intercession on behalf of 
those who had incurred her husband's displeasure. Wherever 


Francesco and Bianca went they were generally accompanied 
by some of their children. A visit which the Duchess paid to 
a certain Don Tommaseo de' Rieti has found its way into 
history owing to the four-year-old Ascanlo who having detected 
a portrait of the Duke hanging in one of the rooms cried out 
in triumph : " Why, there's my papa ! " ( He ele qui lo mio 
patre?} * Francesco's Illness, in 1461, cast the first shadow over 
the family life. He was seized with a serious attack of dropsy 
and for some time he lay at death's door. As soon as he was 
well enough to mount a horse, he resumed his daily rides In 
order to show himself to the people, and so to dissipate the 
rumours of his death. By the following spring he was supposed 
to have regained his normal health, yet keen observers noticed 
that the vigour and agility of former years did not return. 
Four years later a second attack of dropsy proved fatal Thus, 
on 8th March, 1466, died Francesco Sforza at the age of sixty - 
five. For two days his body lay In state at the Court of 
Arengo, arrayed in the ducal robes with the sword which had 
helped to win them between his hands. He was then buried 
In the Duomo, and all Milan mourned the loss of one whom 
they looked upon " not only as a Duke but as a revered father ". 
"Sforza's political ability," says a French historian/ 
< equalled his military genius." This was certainly the opinion 
of his contemporaries, who valued him no less as a statesman 
than as a soldier. From the day of his victory at Aquila he 
was recognised by friends and foes alike as the chief of Italian 
mercenaries, and many a condottiere was proud to claim him as 
his master. " I should always wish to fight with you at my 
side, for then I should not think it possible to lose," Galeazzo 
Sforza once said rather patronisingly to the Duke of Urbino. 
" I learned everything from His Excellency Duke Francesco, 
your father," 3 was Federlco's prompt reply, and Galeazzo's 
youthful arrogance was silenced. Such was the reputation of 
Francesco the condottiere, while for Francesco the statesman 

1 Dina, A., Lodomco II Moro pvima della sua vemita al governo. Arch, 
Stor. Lomb., 1886. 

2 Gaillard, Histoire de Frangols I. 

3 Vespasiano, Vita di Fedenco da Montefeltro, p. 106. 


was reserved the friendship of Cosimo del Medici, of Pius II. 
and of Louis XI. Three very distinct personalities, they were 
alike In their appreciation of sound political judgment, and all 
three turned to Francesco as their fellow-worker and adviser. 
Cosimo and Francesco together originated the policy of the 
Triple Alliance. The establishment of the illegitimate line of 
Aragon In Naples was due to the united efforts of Francesco 
and Pius II. Thanks to Francesco's support, Louis XL carried 
through his peace policy in Italy in the teeth of the opposition 
of his Court. Francesco's fame spread even to far-off England, 
where in the list of knights elected to the Order of the Garter 
under Edward IV. is to be found the name of Francis Sfortia. 
In physique he resembled the typical fighting hero. Pius II. 
describes him as he appeared at the Diet of Mantua in 1459, 
riding like a youth in spite of his fifty-eight years, tall of 
stature, majestic and grave of countenance, always calm and 
affable In his speech, behaving in everything as a true prince. 
In his condottiere days, Francesco was undaunted by cold or 
hunger or pain. Few could rival him in any athletic exercises. 
He wanted little sleep, yet when the opportunity came no noise 
of the camp was sufficient to keep him awake. In character, 
too, Francesco was essentially a man of action, blunt, practical, 
almost matter-of-fact. When his ministers were anxiously 
consulting astrologers in order to find a favourable day for the 
garrison to enter the Castello of Milan, Francesco declared 
that he " paid no heed to such subtleties V Anything in the 
nature of display was distasteful to him, and he was always 
frugal in the matter of food. He won his soldiers 5 hearts by 
remembering the names of their horses. He never forgot 
those who served him, and he was In consequence generally 
served well. Although naturally humane, he did not shrink 
from cruelty when he considered it necessary. Failure, in his 
eyes, was the one unpardonable crime. Moreover, thanks to 
his remarkable power of adapting himself to the needs of the 
time, It was a crime which he very rarely committed. All 
through Francesco's career can be traced the gradual subjuga- 
tion of the soldier to the statesman. Naturally frank, generous, 
1 Beltraini, L,, Lp, Vita nel Castello di Milano, p. 17, 


proud and impetuous, he learned to meet craft with counter- 
craft, to husband his resources and to bear with the caprices of 
his father-in-law and of the Arabrosian Republic. Above all 
he learned to bide his time. Over and over again he aban- 
doned his Immediate object to embark upon a fresh method of 
securing the great aim of his life. Having failed to win the 
hand of Blanca by fighting for FIlippo Maria Visconti, he 
eventually secured his bride by fighting against him. He 
clung to the March of Ancona so long as it seemed likely to 
serve as a stepping-stone to Milan. He sold his last city there 
when It tended to become an obstacle in his path. His per- 
sistence with regard to ends was, Indeed, so great that It made 
him an opportunist as to the means which he employed. Such 
a combination Is of more value than the most favourable con- 
junction of stars. For the rest, Francesco belongs essentially 
to the earlier half of the fifteenth century, to the era which 
preceded the Renaissance. As In the sphere of architecture 
his function was to build rather than to decorate, so in the 
sphere of politics he ranks with Cosimo del Medici among the 
founders of Italian tyrannies, who prepared the way for the 
tyrannis In Its glory under the auspices of such men as Lorenzo 
II Magmfico and Lodovico II Moro. 


(1466 1476) 

AT the time of Francesco's death, the heir to the Duchy of 
Milan was still in France. Galeazzo was making pre- 
parations to leave his winter quarters in Dauphine in order to 
visit the French Court, when news came which forced him to 
turn his steps with all speed towards Milan. Bianca wrote 
herself to say that the Duke was dangerously ill, and that it was 
necessary to be prepared for the worst. "Therefore," she 
continued, <l we wish you Immediately on receipt of this letter to 
mount horse . . . bringing with you Count Gasparro . . . and 
to come away post-haste without any delay." I Francesco's death 
must have occurred almost before this missive reached Gale- 
azzo, and with the throne already vacant, he could by no means 
reckon upon a favourable reception in the Duchy. The loss of 
a powerful Duke would naturally give rise to attempts to over- 
throw the dynasty, and Galeazzo had the remembrance of the 
general unsettlement at the time of his father's Illness to show 
him what might be expected now. Hence the new Duke 
thought It prudent to set out for his dominions disguised as the 
servant of a Milanese merchant who was travelling from Lyons. 
In spite of this precaution he was attacked by some Pied- 
montese peasants, who besieged him for three days in the 
church to which he fled for safety. At length the Council of 
Turin came to his rescue, and on I7th March Galeazzo entered 
Novara escorted by the members of the Council and other 
Pledmontese nobles. 2 The leader of this attack was a certain 
Agostino, Abbot of Casanova, who, reckoning on the appearance 

1 Pasolini, Caterina Sforza t vol. Hi., Dock 8. *PP> dt-> Doct. 9, 



Ujffisi Gallery, Florence 


of rival claimants to the Duchy, had hoped to turn the posses- 
sion of Galeazzo's person at so critical a moment to pecuniary 
advantage. When at last Galeazzo reached Milan he found 
that all was quiet, and that his accession was treated as the 
natural consequence of Francesco's death. This peaceful open- 
ing of the new reign was due in large measure to the prompti- 
tude of the Duchess, On the very day of her husband's death 
Bianca summoned the Secret Council in order to exact an oath 
of allegiance from its members, and to bid them provide for the 
internal tranquillity of the Duchy. At the same time she wrote 
to the chief powers of Italy asking them to aid in maintaining 
the young Duke upon his throne. Foremost among those who 
proffered support to the House of Sforza was the King of 
France. Before setting out for Italy Galeazzo had written, in 
compliance with his mother's instructions, to inform Louis XL 
of the reason of his departure, promising to return If Francesco 
should recover, and begging that the King would " take some 
thought for the preservation of our State J} should the Duke's 
illness prove fatal. Louis XL replied by a letter addressed to 
his " most dear and much loved aunt " (" Tres cJiere et tres amee 
tante "), in which he expressed his displeasure at the " hindrance " 
which had befallen Galeazzo in Piedmont and his determination 
to uphold the Sforza dynasty as if it were his own. 1 A year 
later he confirmed Galeazzo in the possession of Genoa and 
Savona, making special mention of the " honourable and profit- 
able services that our brother and cousin Galeazzo Maria . . . 
has freely rendered to us and to the crown of France". 2 Piero 
del Medici and Ferrante of Naples also came to the aid of 
their ally by providing men and money for the defence of 
Milan. All the chief Italian States save Venice sent embassies 
of condolence upon Francesco's death and of congratulation 
upon his son's accession. Thus did the triumphs of Francesco's 
foreign policy enable Galeazzo to tide over the first difficult 
moments of his rule. 

Galeazzo allowed over three years to elapse after his acces- 
sion before he went through the ceremony of popular election. 
He hoped eventually to obtain the imperial investiture. There- 
1 Op. cit., Doct. n* 2 Sorbelli, Francesco Sforza a Genoa, Doct. 49. 


fore he was anxious not to offend the Emperor by doing any- 
thing, In the meantime, which might be considered to prejudice 
the imperial rights over Milan. In 1469 Frederick III. again 
visited Italy, and Milanese ambassadors went to Ferrara to ask 
for the investiture. Frederick II L had not the means at his 
disposal for an attack on Milan, but he proved obstinate in his 
determination not to recognise the usurpation of an imperial 
fief. The ambassadors were refused audience and the Emperor 
studiously avoided Sforza's territories throughout his visit. From 
henceforth Galeazzo abandoned the idea of Imperial investiture as 
hopeless. In December, 1469, the Council of Nine Hundred met 
to swear fealty to the Duke in the name of the citizens of Milan, 
and Galeazzo, as his father before him, based his authority upon 
popular consent Soon afterwards Galeazzo went to Vigevano 
where he received an oath of fealty from representatives of the 
other cities in his dominions, in order that they might be spared 
the necessity of entering the capital. The episode forms a 
curious instance of the undying jealousy which existed between 
Milan and the subject-cities of the Duchy. 

Galeazzo Maria began his reign at the age of twenty-two. 
Already he had shown signs of the uncontrolled passions and 
of the extravagance and vanity which marked his career as Duke. 
He formSj in fact, a striking example of a child upon whose 
education every care has been lavished and who nevertheless 
turns out badly. The early reports of his tutor, Guinforte 
Barzizza, and of his uncle and guardian, Lancellotto del Maino, 
show Galeazzo to have been, for the most part, obedient and 
industrious. When in 1457 Agnese del Maino brought a 
gentleman from Navarre to visit her grandchildren, he declared 
that he had never seen such intelligent and well-mannered 
children. From this time, however, Galeazzo began .to travel 
about to neighbouring Courts, and the attentions which he 
received were enough to turn any boy's head. Duke Borso 
d'Este, whom Galeazzo visited in 1457, announced that his chief 
object was to send his young guest home " satiated and stuffed 
with Ferrarese pleasure )J . 1 Two years later Galeazzo went to 

1 Cappelli, A., Guinforte Barxizza, Maestro di Galeazzo Maria Sforza. 
Arch. Stor. Lomb., 1894. 


Florence In order to meet Plus II. and to accompany him to 
Mantua. He was taken to dine at Cosimo's villa at Careggi 
where music and dancing were arranged for his benefit 1 He 
rode at the Pope's right hand on all public occasions. He was 
complimented upon his speeches. His learning was accounted 
marvellous. All this flattery the boy probably took to himself 
and did not think to ascribe the greater part of it to a desire to 
please his powerful father. Certain It Is that from this time 
complaints began to arise of Galeazzo's wildness and self-will. 
In 1459 Agnese del Maino wrote to tell Bianca of his bad 
behaviour, and a year later Francesco had perforce to admit 
that " Galeazzo fears no one and does whatever enters his head "? 
In 1463 Galeazzo possessed a separate establishment from that 
of his parents, with a private kitchen and a more costly style of 
living. Amusement and luxury were already his chief concern, 
as was repeatedly shown during his expedition to France. 
Francesco's small faith In his son's military capacity may be 
gaged by his Insistence that Galeazzo should always follow the 
advice of VImercate. Galeazzo's first letter to his father de- 
scribed the delights of visiting Maria of Savoy at Vercelli, where, 
according to Savoyard custom, he could kiss twenty damsels 
in one evening. Later on he received a stern rebuke from 
Francesco for so forgetting his dignity as a commander as to 
hunt and joust with his soldiers. 3 Such youthful failings are 
significant of the future when, In spite of his talents, Galeazzo 
Maria undermined the stability of his throne by his refusal 
either to control himself or to submit to control. 

When Galeazzo was safely established In Milan, the nego- 
tiations for his marriage with Bona of Savoy were resumed. 
Although Galeazzo was not able to see his future bride while 
he was In France, the Milanese ambassador, Giorgio Annone, 
visited the French Queen and her sister at Orleans in February, 
1466. " I remained with the Queen for more than half an hour," 
Annone wrote to the Duchess of Milan, " but for the most part 

1 Cf. letter from Galeazzo to Francesco Sforza, 23rd April, 1459, given by 
Fabriczy. Jahrbuch, 1904, 

2 Cappelli, A., of. dt. 

3 Ghinzoni, P., Spedizlone Sfoyxesca in Francia. 


I had my eye upon her sister, who seemed never to tire of 
looking at me." Both ladles sent messages to Galeazzo, and 
Annone professed entire satisfaction with the result of his visit 
" I think/' he concludes, " that if Your Highness saw her (Bona) 
she would be much pleased with so beautiful a lady. I believe, 
moreover, that she possesses every virtue, but If I had been able to 
see her once or twice more, I could have given a truer judgment" l 
At length, In May, 1468, Tristano Sforza set out for France to 
act as the Duke's proxy in the marriage ceremony, which took 
place at the CMteau of Amboise. The alliance had been con- 
cluded by Louis XL without reference to Bona's brother, 
Amadeus IX. of Savoy, who was virtually at war with Milan. 
Hence Bona had to make her journey by way of Marseilles and 
Genoa In order to avoid passing through Savoyard territory. 
By some strange freak of fortune, it was Lodovico Sforza who 
first welcomed on Lombard soil the sister-in-law whom he was 
eventually to oust from her position In Milan. The meeting 
between Galeazzo and Bona took place at Novi, and the new 
Duchess thereupon discarded her French clothes to dress hence- 
forth after the fashion of Lombardy. Louis XI. had fixed 
upon Vercelli as Bona's dowry, but as the town was not his to 
give Galeazzo must proceed to conquer it from Savoy. War 
with so near a neighbour was, however, too dangerous to be 
prolonged, and after some fighting Galeazzo bought peace by 
the surrender of his claims to Vercelli. The treaty paved the 
way for closer union with Savoy. In 1474 Phillbert L, the son 
and successor of Amadeus, was betrothed to his first cousin, 
the infant daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Milan. Con- 
nected by marriage with both France and Savoy, Galeazzo 
had Httie fear of trouble upon the western frontiers of his 
dominions, an advantage which fully compensated for a 
dowerless bride. 

Until November, 1467, Galeazzo ruled Milan in conjunction 
with his mother. From that date, however, Bianca's name 
ceased to appear upon public documents. The young Duke 
resented Bianca's share In the government, complaining that 

1 Pasolini, Catenna Sforza, vol. liL, Doct. 7. 


he was treated "as if he were a boy of little Intelligence". 1 
Not unnaturally the breach between mother and son widened 
after Galeazzo's marriage, and at length in October, 1468, Bianca 
decided to leave Milan for her own dowry town of Cremona. 
She went no farther than Melegnano, where she died after 
a few days' Illness. Rumour at once attributed her death to 
Galeazzo's poison, although absolutely no evidence has been 
produced in support of this view. Earlier in the year Bianca 
had been laid up at Cremona with a chill which she had caught 
on her journey from Milan, 2 and It Is most probable that another 
such chill caused her death. Bianca appears to have been at 
all times a bad traveller. In a letter written by Francesco in 
1463, the Duke expresses his sorrow for his wife's sufferings 
during a ride from Lodi, and begs that for his sake she will 
follow her doctor's advice and not do such rash things again. 3 
Galeazzo's guilt lies rather In the cruelty and self-will which 
drove Bianca from Milan, and which embittered If It did not 
actually hasten her end. The Duke came to Melegnano In 
time to see his mother alive. She bequeathed to him Cremona 
with the stipulation that its revenues should be shared with his 
brothers. " 1 commend to you my Milanese and all our other 
subjects/ were among her last words. Bianca was attended 
on her death-bed by some friars who were returning from a 
Chapter at Lodi, and had turned aside to visit the Duchess. In 
the eyes of "her Milanese" the visit seemed almost miraculous, 
especially when the story was coupled with that of a great comet, 
which had been seen in Milan a few days before Blanca's death, 
and which disappeared Into the courtyard of the Castello at the 
very hour when she breathed her last By such strange tales 
did the people of Milan express their love for the last of the 
Visconti and their sorrow at her loss. Bianca was a woman of 
remarkable gifts, and she had proved her excellence as a wife, 

1 Sabadino, Gynevra de le dare donne. 

spasolini, op. cit., vol. Hi., Doct. 15. C/. also a letter of 8th June, 1468, in 
which Bianca begs her son Lodovico not to be disturbed about her health as 
"by God's grace we are now well, although we still suffer a little from our chest 
complaint ". Archivio di Stato di Milano, Potenze Sovmne, Lodovico II 
Vicende personali. 

3 Pasolini, op. cit. t vol. i., p. 20. 



as a mother and as a sovereign. Her son had, indeed, shown 
himself ungrateful, yet she retained until the last the esteem and 
affection of her subjects. 

As far as the external relations of the Duchy were con- 
cerned Galeazzo Maria had but to carry on Ms father's policy, 
and it is only fair to admit that he did so with considerable 
success. While Galeazzo's reign inaugurated a closer union 
between Milan and France, it also witnessed, on more than 
one occasion, concerted action on the part of the members of 
the Triple Alliance. The peace of Italy was a delicate plant 
which might languish with any change in the political atmo- 
sphere, and it was generally expected that Galeazzo's accession 
would provoke fresh hostilities on the part of Venice. Milan 
was probably saved by the Turkish war, which forced the 
Venetians to concentrate their energies elsewhere. When, 
however, in 1467 an opportunity arose for an indirect attack 
on the Triple Alliance, Venice promptly availed herself of it 
Diotsalvi Neroni, having failed to stir up opposition to the 
Medici at home, came that year to Venice in the hope of 
bringing about an attack on Florence from without The 
Senate did nothing officially, but they allowed their former 
condottiere^ Colleone, to enter Neroni's service. At the head 
of an army largely recruited in Venetian territory, Colleone 
prepared to descend on Florence by way of Faenza and the 
Val Lamone. It was now Sforza's turn to render aid to the 
Medici. Galeazzo himself headed the Milanese contingent 
which set out for Romagna to join the Neapolitan forces 
under Alfonso of Calabria, and the Florentines under Ro- 
berto San Severimx The campaign which followed brought 
little military glory to the Duke of Milan. Federico of 
Urbino, who commanded the united forces of the Triple 
Alliance, found his cautious policy compromised by Galeazzo's 
rashness. At last the Ten of War thought it wise to remove 
the Duke of Milan from the field of action by inviting him to 
a conference at Florence. During his absence the Triple 
Alliance gained their one important victory at La Molinella, 
near Imola. Soon afterwards Galeazzo had to hurry to the 
Defence of his own dominions against the encroachments of 


Savoy. Finally, in April, 1468, thanks to the threats of Louis 
XL and to the mediation of Pope Paul IL, Colleone consented 
to a peace, which should include all the Powers of Italy. 

Before the end of the year the Triple Alliance had em- 
barked upon a fresh campaign in the interests of the House 
of Maiatesta at Rimini Sigismondo Malatesta, having diec 
without legitimate heir, Paul II. laid claim to Rimini as i 
lapsed fief. Yet the increase of papal power in the Romagns 
was unwelcome to every Italian State, and especially to the 
Triple Alliance. Through Romagna ran the great Via ^Emilia 
the highway which connected the Lombard cities with Rome 
and Naples, while the towns on the route commanded the 
passes of the Apennines, which were among the chief avenue* 
of Florentine trade. Hence Federico of Urbino once more 
took the field at the head of the armies of Milan, Naples anc 
Florence, in order to support the cause of Roberto Malatesta 
the eldest of Sigismondo's many illegitimate sons. Meanwhile 
Sigismondo's widow, the famous Isotta, negotiated with Venice 
in the interests of her own son Sallustio. The Pope was in- 
duced to accept Sallustio as his candidate, and thus the five 
Powers were pitted against each other as the champions o 
rival Malatesta claimants. For two months Rimini was be- 
sieged by the armies of the Church, until Roberto Malatesta, 
by a clever ruse, drew the enemy into the open to be crushed 
by Federico of Urbino. Thus Roberto recovered all his 
father's dominions, and when, a few months later, Sallustio 7 * 
dead body was found in a trench at Rimini, few hesitated tc 
brand his half-brother with the crime. The Colleonic and 
Malatesta wars, although of secondary importance in them- 
selves, are interesting as practical illustrations of the policy ol 
the Triple Alliance. By means of concerted action on the 
part of the three States, Florence was saved from a threatened 
revolution, the balance of power was maintained in the face 
of papal and Venetian ambitions, and the peace of Italy was 
restored after what were but trifling ruptures. 

Never perhaps were the relations between Milan and Florence 
closer or more cordial than in the years which followed these 
wqxs. On the birth of the heir to the Duchy in 1469 


Lorenzo dei Medici went to Milan to stand sponsor to the 
little Gian Galeazzo. The diamond which he gave to Bona 
on this occasion so gratified Galeazzo's taste for jewels that he 
asked Lorenzo to be the godfather of all his children. Yet 
Lorenzo brought no more good fortune to his godchild than did 
the auspicious name with which this luckless descendant of the 
Visconti was endowed Lorenzo had not long returned home 
when the death of his father placed him at the head of the Flor- 
entine State. Thereupon the alliance with Naples and Milan 
was renewed in his name and in that of his brother Giuliano, 
In the spring of 1471 the Duke and Duchess of Milan went 
to Florence to fulfil a vow at the Church of the Annunciata and 
to pay a return visit to their Medicean allies. Corio waxes elo- 
quent over the splendours of the ducal cortege which numbered 
some two thousand horses, as well as twelve coaches, which 
were dragged by mules across the Apennines for the use of 
Bona and her ladies. Cloth of gold and of silver formed the 
predominating element in the costumes of the train, while 
every servant had a new silk suit of the Sforza colours. In 
order to while away the tedium of the journey Galeazzo's 
favourite dogs, falcons and musical instruments were added 
to the party. The Florentines were duly impressed by the 
splendour and liberality of the Duke of Milan, who in return 
for a few flowers would give ducats. Nevertheless, they openly 
expressed their horror at seeing Galeazzo and all his Court so 
disregard Lent as to "eat meat daily without respect for the 
Church or for God". 1 Galeazzo and Bona were lodged at the 
Medici palace in the Via Larga, and manifold were the en- 
tertainments provided for them. One misfortune, however, 
occurred. During the performance of a mystery play repre- 
senting the descent of the Holy Ghost at San Spirito, the 
sacred tongues of fire caught the church which was reduced 
to ashes. The present church, of which Brunelleschi was the 
architect, had already been begun hard by the old building. 
Thus the fire caused the work tp be hurried on so that the new 
San Spirito was ready for use in 1481. On leaving Florence 
the Duke and Duchess visited Lucca,, from whence they re 
1 Machiavelli, Storia Fiorentina. 


turned home by way of Genoa and Pavia. The next year the 
Triple Alliance was strengthened by the betrothal of the In- 
fant heir of Milan to his cousin, the daughter of Alfonso and 
Ippolita of Calabria. Italy could enjoy a few years of tran- 
quillity, thanks to the good understanding which prevailed 
between the three young allies and contemporaries, Alfonso of 
Calabria, Lorenzo dei Medici and Galeazzo Maria Sforza. 

In spite of the friendly relations between its members, the 
seeds of future rupture within the Triple Alliance were sown 
during the reign of Galeazzo. Paul II. on his death in August, 
1471, was succeeded by Pope Sixtus IV., and the new Pope 
at once set himself to provide for his numerous relatives out 
of the States of the Church. It so happened that the town of 
Imola in Romagna fell at this time into the hands of the Duke 
of Milan. Imola was nominally a papal fief, yet the ruling 
family of Manfredi had long treated it as a private possession, 
and they now ceded it to Galeazzo with the idea that it should 
pass under Florentine influence as had done the other 
Manfredi city of Faenza. Lorenzo was already In negotiation 
with Milan for its sale when Sixtus IV. proposed to buy 
Imola for his nephew Girolamo Riario, on the understanding 
that he should marry Caterina Sforza, the Duke's illegitimate 
daughter. In 1473 Cardinal Pietro Riario visited Milan. 
According to Corio the object of the visit was to propose to 
Galeazzo that the Pope should make him King of Lombardy 
if he in his turn would work for the succession of Pietro to 
the Holy See. This, however, could have been little but Court 
gossip. The chief subject of discussion was the affair of Imola. 
Pietro was received in Milan as if he had been the Pope him- 
self, and the negotiations for the sale and for the marriage were 
satisfactorily concluded. Sixtus duly invested Girolamo with 
Imola, while the Duke of Milan promised his daughter with a 
dowry of ten thousand ducats. 1 Caterina was then a child of 
eleven. Hence it was not until after Galeazzo's death that 
she quitted Milan to join Girolamo in their city-state. Mean- 
while Lorenzo dei Medici naturally resented the march which 
Sixtus IV. had stolen upon him. Although it produced no 
iPasolini, vol. iil, Dock 52. 


rupture between Milan and Florence It helped to bring about 
a coolness towards the Papacy which did not end here. The 
Immediate result was a league between Milan, Florence and 
Venice in 1474, which was answered by a counter league 
between Naples and the Papacy. During the reign of Galeazzo, 
however, this fresh grouping of the five Powers had no out- 
ward effect. 

During the last years of Galeazzo's life Milan was drawn 
Into the quarrel between Louis XL and Charles the Bold of 
Burgundy. When In 1474 Louis XL stirred up the Swiss to 
invade Franche-Comt6, Charles the Bold approached Galeazzo 
by means of the Duchess of Savoy, who acted as Regent for 
her son Philibert. Milanese ambassadors were despatched to 
the Court of Charles the Bold, while the Bastard of Burgundy 
visited Galeazzo at his capital. Yet the Duke of Milan could 
not long remain blind to the danger of embroiling himself 
with the Swiss and of sacrificing the friendship of France. 
After Charles the Bold's two defeats at Granson and Morat, 
Galeazzo thought it prudent to change sides. At the same 
time the Duchess of Savoy, whose alliance with Burgundy 
had brought her little save loss of territory, began to court 
a reconciliation with her brother, Louis XI. Charles the Bold, 
thereupon, took her prisoner, and young Duke Philibert fled 
to Milan, where he called upon Galeazzo for aid. Hence In 
October, 1476, the Duke of Milan entered Piedmont at the 
head of a considerable army. He succeeded In conquering 
back many places which had been occupied by the Burgundians, 
and when he returned to Milan for Christmas, It was with the 
Intention of renewing the conflict in the following spring. 
Yet fate willed otherwise. Early In January Charles the Bold 
met his death at Nancy, while Milan was still In a state of 
ferment owing to the fall of her Duke beneath the dagger of 
an assassin. 

In the sphere of foreign politics Galeazzo's political ability 
and his open-handed magnificence served to hide his obvious 
failings in a way that It was Impossible for them to do in 
matters of internal government. The statutes of the reign 
form an instructive commentary upon the character of the 


prince, upon his vanity, his extravagance, his cruelty and also 
upon Ms capacity for business and genuine interest in the 
improvement of his dominions. The Duke could brook the 
interference of his father's advisers as little as he could that 
of his mother. Hence many of Francesco's veterans left the 
Court, and, among them, Alessandro Sforza, Lord of Pesaro, 
who fought in the Malatesta war against the forces of his 
nephew. Cecco Simonetta, however, remained, no longer as 
a secretary but as a leading member of the Secret Council. 
The extravagant expenditure of the new regime taxed the 
ducal camera to the uttermost. Thus throughout the reign 
there were murmurs at the increase of taxation and at the fresh 
burdens which were laid upon the Duchy. In 1467 general 
indignation was excited by the demand of a fourth part of the 
annual revenues of all ecclesiastical benefices on the ground 
that clergy as well as laity should contribute to the mainten- 
ance of the State. Still more unpopular was the levy of the 
inquinto, that is, of an additional fifth upon the already existing 
taxes on meat, wine, bread and other necessaries of life. 1 So 
great was the discontent aroused that Galeazzo resolved to 
abolish the inquinto, and in 1474 the Council of Nine Hundred 
met to give its consent to a decree framed for this purpose. Yet 
it could have been little more than the name of inquinto that 
was abolished. The Duke stipulated that his Exchequer should 
not be made a penny the poorer by the concession, and the tax, 
apparently, continued until it was removed by Simonetta after 
Galeazzo's death. In 1469 the decree that the streets of Milan 
should be paved with stones at the expense of the citizens all 
but produced a revolution. Under Francesco it appears that 
the cost of paving had been borne by the Exchequer and hence 
the outburst of resentment. Galeazzo further replenished his 
resources by the revival of State lotteries and of the sale of 
offices, both of which means of raising money had been re- 
nounced by his father. Vast as were the sums which the Duke 
spent on luxury, his was no reckless extravagance. He showed 
himself surprisingly scrupulous with regard to the payment of 

iGhinzoni, P., L ] Inquinto ossia una tassa odiosa del secolo xv. Arch. Stor. 
Lomb., 1884. 


his debts, and the ducal balance-sheet for the year 1476 l shows 
a careful supervision of finance on his part The fact that the 
balance Is on the right side, in spite of some forty thousand 
ducats spent on jewels, bears witness both to Galeazzo's 
financial ability and to the wealth of Milan. 

A reign of comparative peace, such as that of the second 
Sforza duke, could not fall to leave Its mark upon the consti- 
tutional working of the Duchy. With Galeazzo living on his 
own dominions, free to Interfere in all matters of government, 
the tendency of the despotism was naturally to become more ab- 
solute. Many of the ducal decrees are worthy of the most highly 
coloured tyrant of romance. Such a command as the following 
Is as meaningless as it is cruel : " To the Podesta of Pavla, etc. 
No one in this city may dance after one o'clock at night on pain 
of his life." 2 There were frequent orders to the Podesti of 
subject-towns to supply forced labour for the ducal estates, and 
the men were required to bring with them their own axe or 
mattock. Yet the Italian dislike of wet weather was so far 
regarded for the labourers to be summoned "if it is fine, 
without rain and not otherwise". 3 The feudal authority of 
the Duke over the Lombard nobles was strictly Interpreted. 
When Count Giovanni Borromeo failed to respond to Galeazzo's 
command to send his son to the Court, he received the following 
significant despatch : " We marvel greatly that you have not 
sent your son as we wrote to you, but three days will nqt pass 
before you have cause to marvel at us ". The next document 
In Morbio's collection is a command to the Magistrates of the 
Revenues to seize Borromeo's lands and possessions. Yet in 
spite of much that was arbitrary the despotism was still 
tempered. The Council of Nine Hundred, as has been already 
noticed, was summoned In 1474. Except for the purpose of 
swearing fealty, the Council had not met for twenty-four years, 
and the summons of this popularly elected body caused con- 
siderable excitement. Nevertheless, its legislative work was 
almost entirely formal in character. The representatives of 

1 Porro, G., Letter e di Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duca di Milano. Arch. 
Stor, Lomb., 1878. 

2 Morbio, Codice Visconteo-Sforzesco, 1473. 3 Op. cit,, 1475. 


each gate sat apart and were given no opportunity of consulting 
with each other. Moreover, It was expressly stipulated that 
the decrees laid before the Council might not be changed, 
either in word or effect, except with regard to certain minor 
points. Throughout Ms reign Galeazzo gave public audience 
in his own residence on two days in the week. If the Duke 
were absent his place was taken by his brothers. By this 
means, ran a ducal decree, < all people of whatever rank, estate 
or condition had free opportunity of speaking with and 
entreating His Excellency, if they claimed to be unduly 
burdened or injured ". 1 As in England people tended to seek 
justice in the royal courts rather than In the local tribunals, 
so In Milan the ducal Councils encroached upon the ordinary 
judicial authorities. On more than one occasion, however, 
Galeazzo supported the constitutional against the bureaucratic 
elements In the Government* On the complaint of the College 
of Jurisprudence, Galeazzo forbade his Councils to commit civil 
causes to themselves or to interfere In any way with the juris- 
diction of the College, unless causes were committed to them 
by "special letters signed by our own hand' 5 . 2 In the same 
way Galeazzo decided against those who wished to postpone 
the payment of their debts to the Commune by an appeal to the 
ducal authority. rt The Vicar of Provision," he decreed, " re- 
presents the Commune of Milan and has the same authority as 
have the Magistrates of the Revenues. Hence in causes which 
are moved In the name of the Commune, he Is a competent judge 
. . . neither Is there appeal from his sentence. " 3 

Galeazzo had a keen eye for the material development of 
the Duchy, especially if It could be effected without cost to 
himself. He was at pains to foster the silk industry by 
ordering five mulberry trees to be planted in every hundred 
poles of land, the trees being supplied If necessary by the 
magistrate of silk. Every March the owners of the trees were 
bound to gather the young leaves, and either dispose of them 
according to the Instructions of the magistrate, or report that 
they were keeping them to feed their own silk-worms. The 

1 Formentini, 2yth March, 1466. 

2 Giudice, P. del, II consiglio ducale e il Senate di Milano. 3 Morbio, 1467, 


cultivation of rice which, before the close of the Sforza era, 
had become one of the principal agricultural productions of 
the Duchy, was introduced under Galeazzo's auspices. 1 He 
also made an attempt to exploit the mineral resources of the 
Duchy. In 1475 a certain Andrea was given the right of 
mining for silver in "our valleys of Marchiorolo," with the 
promise of free profits for ten years, while the Duke himself 
organised an expedition to Bellinzona in search of rubies. More 
practical, perhaps, was the care spent on improving the Grand 
Canal and in extending it from Binasco to Pavia. The new 
branch of the canal enabled the Duke to perform the frequent 
journey between Milan and Pavia by boat Moreover, the 
tolls and fines arising from the waterways of the Duchy formed 
a source of considerable profit, so much so that the administra- 
tion of the Martesana Canal was sold to a private person, who 
undertook to pay the Duke* four thousand lire a year and to pro- 
vide two ships for his use. Yet the list of those who benefited 
by the canals, and who must consequently help to repair them, 
shows the real advantage which they brought to the Duchy, 
both as highways of trade and by turning the mills and water- 
ing the lands through which they flowed. Above all, the 
prosperity of Milan depended upon her trade, and it fell to the 
Duke to protect the commerce of the Duchy both against rivals 
and against itself. Hence the frequent edicts against adulter- 
ated goods and false measures, as for instance In 1467, when 
the Council of Justice ordered that all adulterated soap 
should be sent out of the city, and that for the future each 
soap-maker should have one stamp so that bad soap might be 
traced. Hence, also, the decree that all merchants going from 
Genoa to Milan, and thence south to Piacenza, must pass through 
Pavia, so that the city might not lose her tolls. Galeazzo's 
reform of the coinage in 1474 must have been of great benefit 
to a trading community. A proposal was made at the time 
to fix the ducat below its true value for the payment of taxes, 
but this piece of trickery the Duke, to do him justice, refused 
to countenance. 

Galeazzo and Bona spent the first few months of their 
1 Motta, E., Arch. Stor. Loinb., 1905, p. 392. 


married life in the Cassino^ a little house in the gardens of the 
Castello at Milan. They wished apparently to have a rustic 
and primitive honeymoon, for their temporary abode is described 
as being " surrounded by water and adjacent to the hen-house". 1 
By the end of the year, however } the Castello was so far com- 
pleted as to be habitable, and from that time there began an 
era of splendour in Milan which paved the way for still greater 
magnificence under Lodovico II Moro. In March, 1469, fifty 
ladies were invited to the Castello to take part in the celebra- 
tion of the Duchess's birthday. The guests came from all 
parts of the Duchy, and the state vessel, or Bucintoro, went to 
Abbiategrasso to convey many of these ladies to Milan by 
way of the Grand Canal. A few years later Corio describes 
the appointment of a hundred courtiers clad in mulberry-colour 
and crimson, with an annual salary of a hundred ducats. Of 
these the historian's father formed one, while young Corio, who 
was then fourteen, joined a company of twenty pages who 
attended the Duke on all occasions. Galeazzo's love of finery 
found scope in the choice of liveries for his suite and of costumes 
to be worn in the Court tournaments. S. George's Day formed 
the great military festival of the year 3 when the Duke went to 
the Duomo to hear Mass and to assist at the blessing of the 
standards. A tournament of special magnificence completed 
the ceremonies of the day. In 1475 no less than twelve hundred 
and five cloaks of velvet or of scarlet cloth and embroidered 
with various devices of the House of Sforza were ordered for 
the occasion. The Duke's youthful love of sport did not desert 
him after his accession, and he took pains to improve the grounds 
of his various residences for hunting purposes. At his com- 
mand the Park of Pavia was stocked with hares, while a new 
park was made at Villanova. This was the site of the ducal 
kennels, where some hundred and twenty dogs were kept in the 
charge of the Castellan. As a patron of art Galeazzo instituted 
the great work of decorating the Castello of Milan. As a 
patron of learning he encouraged the formation of a printing 
company in 1472, owing to which Milan had the honour of being 
the first Italian city to print Greek books. Galeazzo's peculiar 
1 Beltrami, L,, Vita nel Castello di Milano, p. 20. 


hobby was, however, the choir of his private chapel. No pains 
were spared to obtain singers. On one occasion a certain 
Gasparo was sent to Picardy and Flanders for "ten good 
sopranos, one high tenor like Bovis, one tenor like Peroto and 
two double basses ", 1 The Duke's desire to hear a certain lute- 
player and his companion, who performed on the viola, during 
a stay at Abbiategrasso, led to a curious letter on the subject. 
"Tell them," wrote Galeazzo in reference to the performers 
who were to appear before him the next day, " that to-morrow 
they must not be intoxicated, but that for the rest of the year 
we give them leave to do as they please, so long as they are 
sober to-morrow." 2 

Many were the illustrious visitors who came to Milan during 
the reign of Galeazzo. In 1469 a succession of ambassadors 
came to see the Castello, including representatives of the 
King of France and the Archduke of Austria. In 1472 the 
Duke ordered rooms to be prepared in the Castello for " two 
foreign gentlemen, M. Filippo and Mon sre de Commines," whom 
he intended shortly to bring to Milan. 3 The visit of King 
Christian I. of Denmark has been rendered famous by his con- 
demnation of the ducal treasure as "unbefitting a true and 
generous prince". After staying with Galeazzo at Pavia 
King Christian was sent to Milan in a chariot drawn by 
four white horses, to be entertained at the Court of Arengo. 
He then went to Rome, and on his return journey through 
Lombardy the Podesta of Parma, Piacenza and Cremona 
received orders to provide for him as the Duke's guest. 
Tradition further relates that in spite of the King's disap- 
proval of the treasure, he did not scruple to borrow ten 
thousand ducats from its owner. So important was the re- 
ception of ambassadors that, in 1468, some trustworthy Milan- 
ese officials drew up a paper of instructions for the guidance 
of their young Duke.* The Duke must himself go out to meet 
ambassadors from the Pope or the Emperor, who took pre- 
cedence over all others. He must also meet ambassadors 

1 Morbio, 1473. 2 Oj&. cit. s 1475. 3 Beltrami, II Castello di Milano. 
4 Maspes, A., Prammatica pel ricevimento degli ambasciatori, inmctti alia 
Corte di Galeazzo Maria ~$forza. Arch. Stor. Lomb., 1890. 


from France and from other royal Courts, and any prince who 
came In person. In other cases, it would be sufficient for 
Galeazzo to send two of his brothers and some nobles. French 
and imperial ambassadors must be lodged with the Court, and 
their expenses must be paid. For the Venetians and the 
Florentines, however, a present of some twenty-five ducats 
would suffice. Embassies from smaller States, such as Mantua 
or Montferrat, need only receive a present if the prince came 
in person, but gifts to the Genoese were recommended " con- 
sidering the reputation and excellence of that city". It would 
have been well for Galeazzo if he had followed the advice of 
his ministers with regard to the treatment of Genoa. Ap- 
parently he did not consider that a subject-city was worthy 
of the splendours which he had lavished upon Florence. Hence 
when the loyal Genoese came out to greet their Duke and 
Duchess, on the occasion of their visit in 1471, they were both 
disappointed and offended to see them in ordinary travel- 
stained clothes. Matters were made worse when Galeazzo 
insisted upon staying in the Castelletto, and when, on his return 
home, he ordered that the fortifications should be increased. 
These marks of distrust did much to alienate Genoa from the 
House of Sforza and to sow the seeds of future trouble. 

Great as was the outward magnificence, it could not hide 
the darker aspect of Galeazzo's Court. The immorality, from 
which none of the Sforza Dukes were free, reached its climax 
under Galeazzo, who was all unmindful of the political danger 
which Machiavelli saw in the false dealings of a prince with 
the women of his subjects. Lucrezia Landriano, the mother 
of Caterina Sforza, was the wife of Piero Landriano, a Milanese 
citizen of note. Yet Caterina grew up at the Milanese Court 
under the care of Bianca and later of Bona of Savoy, who 
treated her as if she were her own child. Lucia Marliano, 
the mistress of Galeazzo's later years, became Countess of Melzo, 
and was provided with a residence in the Porta Vercellina near 
the royal stables. Presents of clothes and jewels on the part 
of the Duke were of frequent occurrence. When Galeazzo 
ordered a piece of gold brocade similar to that worn by the 
Duchess "to be made so that our illustrious consort knows 


nothing of it/' 1 It may be assumed that Lucia was the re- 
cipient. Most curious is the document assigning to Lucia 
and her children the profits of the Martesana Canal, In it 
Galeazzo refers to "the inborn virtues, the chaste life and the 
great beauty of Lucia de Mariiano " which render her con- 
tinually more dear to him and which make him wish that his 
gift should be the outward expression of their mutual love. 2 
Galeazzo's correspondence with the Castellan of Binasco about 
a certain priest, who wrote verses describing the Duke as a 
tc false villain/' casts a lurid light upon the treatment of politi- 
cal offenders. The priest was condemned to perpetual im- 
prisonment " in one of the worst dungeons of this our fortress"* 
He only lived a few months, and in writing to inform Galeazzo 
of his death, the Castellan added that two other prisoners would 
soon share his fate. " Truly, " ran the letter, s< they could not 
be worse off than they are . . , not having so much as a rag 
of clothing between them." 3 The chronicles of the day are 
full of stories of Galeazzo's cruelty and violence. They tell of 
a priest starved to death for prophesying that the Duke would 
only reign ten years ; of a painter forced on pain of death to 
finish decorating a room in one night ; of a poacher made to 
swallow, unskinned, the hare which he had caught ; of a man 
who lost his hands for talking to one of Galeazzo's mistresses. 
Such tales do not all bear the test of history, yet, when re- 
peated by contemporaries' such as Corio, they show that 
Galeazzo was regarded in his own day as a man whose pas- 
sions rendered him a wild beast. The Duke of Milan, as other 
of his contemporaries, coupled wrong-doing with strictness of 
religious observance. He made large gifts to churches and 
monasteries, while a stringent edict against all forms of trading 
on Sundays and Saints 3 days dates from his reign. When in 
1473 the Duke intended to spend Lent in Milan, he sent full 
instructions for the preparation of the courtyard of the Castello 
where the people might gather to hear the preaching, to which 
Galeazzo listened from a window of his own apartments. 
Violence and religion joined hands in the command that one 

1 Beltrami, Vita nel Castello di Milano. 2 Morbio> 1475. 
8 Cappelli, A.I Arch, Stor. Lomb., 1897, p. 147, 


who had robbed and Insulted three pilgrim monks should be 
hung on the Roman road with the following writing- attached 
to his neck, " Let pilgrims alone". 

Viewed in the light of his character, there is a tragic fitness 
in Galeazzo Maria's violent death. Yet his murder was the 
result of no popular uprising against a hated tyrant. He was 
rather the victim of an epidemic of assassination inspired by an 
all too practical Interpretation of the classics. When In 1476 
the Duke rode Into Milan a few days before Christmas, three 
ravens hovered round him and refused to be driven away. A 
mysterious comet appeared In the sky, and Galeazzo's room In the 
Castello was reported to have been seen in flames. These sinister 
auguries did not, however, damp the spirits of the Duke. On 
Christmas Eve the Yule-log was solemnly burnt In the presence 
of the Court, and on Christmas Day Galeazzo heard the custom- 
ary Masses In the ducal chapel. He was apparently at the 
height of his prosperity. A successful campaign had just been 
terminated, the Duke's troublesome brothers, Lodovico and 
Sfbrza, were safe In France, and as Galeazzo feasted In his 
favourite Sala delle Colombine, he congratulated himself openly 
upon the strength of the House of Sforza. The next day the 
Duke prepared to follow his usual custom of hearing Mass in 
the Church of S. Stefano on the festival of that saint. It 
was an extremely cold morning, and the snow rendered It bad 
going on foot, still worse on horseback. Hence there was 
considerable discussion as to whether the Duke should go. 
Bona, alarmed by bad dreams, begged her husband to stay at 
home, but Galeazzo persisted in his resolution, having previously 
discarded the steel cuirass prepared for him, " for fear of looking 
too fat ". Before starting the Duke sent for his two little sons 
and embraced them most tenderly, seeming as If he were loth 
to part from them. Then the whole cortege rode towards San 

Meanwhile three conspirators and their accomplices had 
posted themselves on either side of the door through which the 
Duke must enter the church. Of these Andrea Lampugnano 
was an impecunious adventurer who had once been condemned 
to death by Francesco Sforza and had been pardoned by tfcs 


present Duke. He now sought to Improve Ms fortunes In the 
general upheaval which he believed would follow upon Galeazzo's 
murder. Carlo Vlscontl avenged a sister, whom the Duke had 
dishonoured, while Girolamo Olgiati, a poet and a man of 
letters, acted purely with the desire to free his city from a 
tyrant. All three were Instigated to the crime by Cola da 
Montana, a far from respectable old master of rhetoric, whom 
Galeazzo had once ordered to be publicly whipped for his mis- 
deeds. He had so filled the young men's minds with the glory 
of tyrannicide, that they made their preparations for the murder 
In the spirit of saviours of society. For some time past Vlscontl, 
Lampugnano and Olgiati had met nightly In a lane behind the 
monastery of S. Ambrogio, there to rehearse the deed, in order 
that they might be prepared for every contingency. Finally, 
they had prayed to S. Ambrose and to S. Stephen to favour 
their " great and holy undertaking," begging them not to be 
offended at the shedding of blood " since by that blood the 
city and Duchy would return to liberty ". Now, having heard 
Mass, they awaited the arrival of their victim. 

When Galeazzo left the Castello, Corio took a short cut on 
foot, so that he arrived at S. Stefano in time to see the Duke 
alight and enter the church, with the ambassadors from Mantua 
and Ferrara on either side of him. Another eye-witness, 1 who 
afterwards wrote a full account of the murder to Florence, de- 
scribes how Filippo Sforza and Bran da Castlglione, Bishop of 
Como, came close behind the Duke. After them walked this 
unknown writer himself, with Ottaviano Sforza leaning on his 
arm, and the historian, Giovanni SItnonetta, on Ottaviano's 
right hand, all three talking together as they crossed the atrium 
leading Into the ancient basilica of S. Stefano. A great 
crowd had collected In the church, so much so that the lackeys 
went In front to clear a passage for the Duke. The procession 
had reached the entrance to the basilica itself, when suddenly 
Lampugnano threw himself forward on one knee, cap In hand, 
as if In the act of presenting a petition. An instant -Ater 
Lampugnano had plunged his dagger Into the Duke's body. 

1 Casanova, Prof. Eugemo, Vuccisione" di Galea%%o Mario, Sforza e alcuni 
document* Fiorentini. Arch. Stor. Lomb,, 1899, 


His companions rushed upon their victim, ^and Sforza fell be- 
neath a rain of blows. It was all over so quickly that the two 
ambassadors had hardly realised what was happening before 
Galeazzo's dead body lay on the floor of the church. 1 In the 
confusion which followed Olgiati and Visconti made their 
escape, but Lampugnano tripped over a lady's dress in his 
flight and was killed on the spot by a Moorish servant of the 
murdered Duke. Once the deed was done the conspirators 
had reckoned upon a general rising in their favour, and while 
Olgiati lay in hiding, his mind was busy with fresh plans for 
stirring on the populace. Only the sight of Larnpugnano's 
mangled remains being dragged through the streets by a hoot- 
ing mob convinced him that Milan, far from rejoicing over the 
death of her Duke, sought vengeance upon his murderers. A 
few days afterwards Olgiati fell into the hands of his enemies. 
Visconti was already taken, and very soon the heads of the 
assassins were exposed to view on the tower of the Broletto 
Nuovo. In spite of the tortures which preceded his death, 
young Olgiati never for one moment lost his sublime confidence 
in the righteousness of his cause. He wrote verses even in 
prison, and when called upon to give an account of the con- 
spiracy, he compiled a Latin statement which gave scope to his 
literary ability. Dying, he declared that he would suffer ten 
times greater torments for so holy an end. Mors acerbafama 
perpetua were the last words upon his lips. 

So ended the career of Galeazzo Maria Sforza. When the 
news of the murder reached Rome, Sixtus IV. exclaimed that 
the peace of Italy was dead, and in his own dominions the 
Duke was mourned as if he had been the most exemplary 
of rulers. A popular song of that date celebrates Galeazzo's 
virtues and calls upon his family, his subjects and all the Powers 
of Italy and Europe to mourn his loss and to pray for his soul. 
Galeazzo's genial manners and, in his better moments, a certain 
frankness and generosity, made him not unpopular. A story 
is told that when Lucia Marliano's priest refused to absolve 
her, the Duke threatened him with instant death. When, 

1 An inscription upon the pavement of the existing church marks the spot 
where Galeazzo fell. 


however, the man still remained obdurate, Galeazzo let him go, 
saying that he did not know that there was so honest a priest In 
his dominions. On another occasion the Duke wrote to a needy 
noble saying that when the time came for marrying his 
daughters he wished to aid In paying the dowry. Yet such 
details, although they may relieve the blackness of the portrait, 
do not affect the true estimate of Galeazzo's character as set 
forth by Bona of Savoy. Troubled by the thought of her 
husband's evil life, and by the fact that he had died unshriven, 
she consulted a body of theologians as to the possibility of ob- 
taining absolution for him after death. The verdict was that 
such absolution could be given by the Pope alone. Hence a 
most curious document l In which Bona, after reciting the crimes 
of her husband, whom " after God " she has " loved above all 
else," begs the Pope to free his soul from the pains of purgatory. 
Galeazzo, according to his wife, was C versed In warfare, both 
lawful and unlawful ; in pillage, robbery and devastation of the 
country ; in extortion of subjects ; in negligence of justice ; In 
injustice knowingly committed ; In the Imposition of new taxes 
which even Included the clergy; in carnal vices; In notorious 
and scandalous simony and in various and Innumerable other 
crimes." At the suggestion of the Pope this long list of sins was 
atoned for by a large contribution to the subsidy then being 
raised for the defence of the Holy See. Bona herself would 
have preferred the money to have been given to the hospital of 
Milan or to have been spent on the foundation of monasteries 
within the Duchy, so that restitution might be made in the place 
where the wrong was done. The incident is valuable for the 
light which It throws both upon the system of Indulgences and 
upon the character of Galeazzo. Few princes have had their 
Iniquities so candidly acknowledged by their wives, and few 
worse crimes have been thus translated Into terms of money. 

1 Pasolinl, CaterinaSforza, vol. ill., Doct. 70. 




ON the very day of Galeazzo's murder, the Secret Council 
met In the Castello to proclaim young Glan Galeazzo 
Duke in his father's stead, under the guardianship of Bona of 
Savoy. Yet the real raler of the Duchy was not the sickly boy 
of seven, nor the woman whose character Philippe de Commlnes 
summed up In the one trenchant phrase, dame de petit sens. 
It was rather Francesco Sforza's former secretary, Cecco 
Simonetta, whose experience of the methods of government 
during the two preceding reigns made him alone capable of 
steering the bark of State through the troubled waters of a 
Regency. The death of a Duke always produced a certain 
amount of agitation In Milan, and the tragic circumstances of 
Galeazzo's end might well be expected to Intensify the dis- 
turbance. In order to tide over the difficult moment, Simon- 
etta arranged that the new reign should be inaugurated by a 
series of conciliatory measures. The detested inquinto was 
declared to be permanently removed from the taxes. Prisoners 
for debts and for minor offences were released. Galeazzo's 
creditors received promises of payment Owing to the scarcity 
of bread In Milan, caused apparently by a bad ^harvest, the 
grist tax was suspended, and free Importation of flour was per- 
mitted until the danger of famine should be averted. Thanks 
to these measures, ran a document of the day, " all would be 
filled with goodwill towards their rulers and would pray for 
their long life and happiness ". Not content with conciliation, 
Bona wrote to Sixtus IV. imploring his help and protection 
should any disturbance occur In Milan. New fortifications 


were begun at the Castello, and strict prohibitions were Issoed 
against carrying arms In the streets. These numerous prepara- 
tions seemed somewhat unnecessary In view of the peaceful 
opening of the new reign. When on ist January the above- 
mentioned witness of Galeazzo's murder wrote his letter to 
Florence, describing the events of the past week, he congratu- 
lated himself upon the entire absence of tumult In the city, and 
upon the way In which the chief States had rallied round Glan 
Galeazzo by sending ambassadors to Milan. Lodovico and 
Sforza were still in France and could not be back for twenty 
days. Meanwhile, he wrote, " this illustrious lady governs with 
the greatest prudence and good sense, and with the most for- 
tunate results. She consults her Council about everything/' l 

In spite of the tranquillity which prevailed In Milan, Slmon- 
etta had every reason to be anxious. A less clear eye than his 
could not fail to perceive signs of future trouble. The family of 
SImonetta came originally from Calabria, and their connection 
with Francesco Sforza dated from his marriage with the 
Calabrian heiress, Polissena Ruffa, Angelo SImonetta acted 
as Francesco's secretary throughout his career in the March, 
and Angelo's two nephews, Cecco and Giovanni, had grown up 
in Sforza service. When Cecco became prominent in Milan, the 
Ghlbelline nobility at once treated this upstart foreigner as an 
enemy. From the days of his secretaryship Cecco was accused 
of leaning upon the Guelphic party, and It was clear that his 
accession to power would provoke the hostility of the leading 
families In Milan. Another element of disturbance lay In the 
Duke's five uncles, who now hoped -to obtain a share In the 
government, which had been denied them during the preceding 
reign. Filippo, the eldest of the five, was a person of no Im- 
portance. Tradition ascribes to him less than the normal 
supply of Intellect, and he was completely overshadowed by his 
forcible brothers, Sforza and Lodovico. Of the two remaining 
brothers, Ascanio had already become a priest, and Ottaviano 
was little more than a boy. Yet the ambitions of the one and 
the youthful Impetuosity of the other made them ready to join 

1 Casanova, oj>. cit. The writer of the letter was evidently a person of im- 
portance, possibly Simonetta himself. 


in any movement which their elders might devise. Following 
the policy of Galeazzo If aria, Simonetta excluded the Sforza 
brothers from the Secret Council, In which was performed the 
true work of government. They were, Indeed, made Presidents 
of the Council of Justice. Yet they were not to be pacified by 
honorary prestige. Hence the return of Lodovico and Sforza 
was the signal for a conspiracy between the princes and the 
Ghibdline nobility. Thanks to the intervention of Lodovico 
Gonzaga and of the various ambassadors gathered at Milan, the 
episode terminated in a peaceful settlement. The five brothers 
consented to retire from the Court, each being granted a palace 
In Milan and an Income of twelve thousand five hundred ducats 
from the revenues of Cremona. Filippo apparently lived con- 
tentedly In his palace until his death In 1492, his name oc- 
curring only at rare intervals in the documents of the period 
Before the year was out, however, Simonetta was involved In 
fresh conflict with the younger princes. 

In the spring of 1477 Galeazzo's foolish conduct with re- 
gard to Genoa bore fruit In the shape of riots In favour of the 
exiled Fregosi. Lodovico and Ottaviano were sent to quell the 
rebellion, which they did with remarkable success. They re- 
turned in glory to Milan, more than ever determined to oust 
Simonetta from power. The Imprisonment of Donato del 
Conte, one of the leading Ghibellines, on suspicion of treachety, 
gave his friends a pretext for taking arms against the Govern- 
ment. A large number of citizens joined the rebels, old names 
were revived to embitter fresh quarrels, and the Ghibellines, 
headed by the Sforza brothers, pitted themselves against the 
Guelphs of the Castello. For some time neither party would 
yield, until the Sforzeschi, fearing the ultimate triumph of 
the Government, took refuge in flight Ottaviano Sforza was 
drowned In the act of crossing the Adda. Donato del Conte 
met his death In an attempt to escape from his prison at 
Monza. Roberto San Severino, another leading Ghibdline, 
escaped to France. In the face of these catastrophes the three 
remaining Sforza were forced to come to terms. They were 
allowed to keep their revenues but were relegated to separate 
districts at safe distances from Milan and from each other. 


Sforza was confined to his estates at BarL Lodovico was sent 
to Pisa and Ascanlo to Perugia. For the time Simonetta had 
come to the end of his difficulties. The year closed with a 
treaty with the Swiss, which staved off threatened invasion from 
that quarter, and which renewed the free commercial inter- 
course that was so precious to dwellers upon both sides of the 

Strong in the support of the chief Italian States and in the 
possession of the boy-Duke, Simonetta's government might 
have lasted throughout Gian Galeazzo's minority if it had not 
been for an event in Florence which caused a general upheaval 
in Italian politics. The coolness between Florence and Sixtus 
IV., which began over the sale of Imola, ripened into a quarrel 
over the appointment of an Archbishop to the vacant See of 
Pisa. Ferrante of Naples, moreover, grew daily more jealous 
of the friendship between Florence and Venice, which he re- 
garded as a breach of the Triple Alliance. At length Pope 
and King joined with the Pazzi, who by their riches and in- 
fluence were the only serious rivals of the Medici in Florence, in 
a conspiracy for the murder of Lorenzo and Giuliano dei Medici. 
During High Mass in the Cathedral at Florence, on Easter 
Day, 1478, the attempt took place. Giuliano fell before the 
assassins, but Lorenzo succeeded in escaping to the sacristy, and 
in so doing he rendered the conspiracy worse than useless. 
Not only did Lorenzo live to reap the fruits of the outburst f 
affection towards the Medici, which followed this attempt to 
destroy them, but the death of his popular brother, Giuliano, 
concentrated the power in his own hands. In the eyes of 
Sixtus IV. Lorenzo had committed an unpardonable offence in 
not being murdered, an offence which the Pope proceeded to 
punish by an open attack on Florence in conjunction with 
Naples. For the ruler of Milan the situation was delicate in 
the extreme. The League of 1474, between Venice, Milan and 
Florence, pledged the two former Powers to support the Medici. 
Yet now Milan could only do this at the cost of a rupture with 
Naples. True to his Guelphic traditions, Simonetta resolved to 
abide by the League of 1474, and Gian Giacomo Trivulzio was 
despatched, with a Milanese contingent, to the aid of Florence, 


The Sforza brothers and their Ghibelllne friends thereupon 
threw themselves on the side of Naples. Although they could 
not place the forces of the Duchy at Ferrante's disposal, they at 
least enabled him to Incapacitate Milan as an enemy. Thus 
Milan, who might have acted as a mediator between Naples and 
Florence, served rather to widen the breach, owing to her inter- 
nal dissensions, which were, in their turn, accentuated by the 
quarrels of her neighbours. 

Those who wished to deal a blow at Milan found a weapon 
ready to hand in the city of Genoa. In the summer of 1478 
Philippe de Commines halted, on his way to Florence, to Invest 
Gian Galeazzo with Genoa as a fief of France. This, however, 
could not prevent Ferrante of Xaples from Inciting the restless 
Genoese to fresh rebellion. Aided by the Sforza brothers, Fer- 
rante persuaded Prospero Adorno to throw off the Milanese 
yoke and to make common cause with the Fregosi. Roberto 
San Severino, who returned from France to lead the rebel 
army, Inflicted a crushing defeat upon the Milanese force, which 
Simonetta had sent to subdue Genoa. Corlo lays stress upon 
the loss which the Milanese troops suffered through Simonetta's 
recent dismissal of their captain, Ambroslno da Longagnana. 
Yet there had been trouble In Galeazzo's reign over Longag- 
nana's high-handed Interference with justice and his arbitrary 
arrests. Hence Simonetta's auction was not prompted merely by 
the party spirit to which Corio attributes It If, moreover, the 
blame of the defeat may In any degree be laid upon Simonetta, 
his wisdom did much to neutralise Its effects. Feeling that It 
was Impossible to hold Genoa, he contrived that Milan should 
recognise her Independence with good grace. Bona was per- 
suaded to yield the Castelletto to Battistino Fregoso, who, on 
being made Doge, expelled Prospero Adorno as well as the 
more violent members of his own family, and assumed a friendly 
attitude towards the Milanese Government. Yet Ferrante had 
so far achieved his object as to deprive Florence of effective 
support from Milan during the first campaign of the Pazzi 
War. In the campaign which was to follow, Sixtus IV. pro- 
vided employment for the Milanese forces by persuading the 
Swiss to descend upon Lombardy. Regardless of their recent 


treaties, Swiss troops poured over the S. Gotthard to attack 
Bellinzona in November, 1478. They were repulsed by the 
Milanese garrison, under Marsiglio Torello, who then headed an 
expedition up the Val Leventina, in the hope of driving the 
invaders across the Alps. The Swiss, however, knew how to 
seize the advantages of mountain warfare. While the Milanese 
troops marched up the valley, their mules took fright at the 
stones which were rolled down from the mountains by the 
hidden foe. When the confusion was at its height, the Swiss 
appeared and completely routed Torello's force. Many of those 
who were not killed in the struggle met their death by drown- 
ing in the Ticino, and only a handful of the eight hundred Lom- 
bards engaged made good their escape to Bellinzona. Simonetta 
and his colleagues were under no delusions as to the real instiga- 
tors of this attack, and peace with Ferrante and the Pope was the 
first proposal of the Secret Council for dealing with the crisis. 
This scheme Simonetta pronounced to be impossible "on ac- 
count of the King's bad disposition ".* He decided instead to 
call in the Marquis of Mantua, who, having repulsed a Swiss 
attack upon Lugano, eventually made peace in April, 1479. 

Meanwhile the Sforza brothers had been growing daily 
more open in their championship of Ferrante and more deter- 
mined to gain a footing in Milan. Early in 1479 Sforza and 
Lodovico broke the boundaries within which they had been 
confined to join San Severino and the Fregosi in the Lunigiana. 
They opened proceedings with an attack upon Pisa, and through- 
out the year their operations on the frontiers between Milan 
and Florence weakened the forces of the League at the main 
seat of war. In August Sforza died, and Lodovico succeeded 
him both as Duke of Bari and as leader of the party of opposi- 
tion to Simonetta. Now that he could act solely in his own 
interests, Lodovico threw discretion to the winds. Accom- 
panied by San Severino, he descended by an unfrequented 
mountain pass into the valley of the Po and appeared before 
Tortona. When Lodovico announced that he had come to 
rescue his nephew from the clutches of Bona and Simonetta, 
Tortona opened her gates to him with shouts of " Viva duca ". 
1 Pel Gmdice, of. cit t 


Simonetta made a final attempt to crash his enemies, only to 
discover that a large party in Milan regarded Lodovico, not as 
a rebel but as a benefactor. Men such as Pusterla, Landriano, 
Borromeo, members of the Ducal Council and of the leading 
families In Milan, besought Bona to come to terms with her 
brother-in-law, In order to deprive the hated Calabrlan of his 
authority. Bona, moreover, had a grievance of her own 
against Simonetta, who had freely expressed his disapproval of 
her Intimacy with Antonio Tassino. A youth of humble 
origin, whom Galeazzo had employed as his carver, Tassino's 
curling locks and handsome figure had charmed Bona to the 
pitch of Infatuation. Egged on by this favourite and by 
Lodovico's devoted ally, Beatrice, the widow of Tristano Sforza, 
Bona determined to take the initiative. In a fit of rashness, 
not uncommon in a weak personality who, In all ordinary cir- 
cumstances, relies -upon the judgment of others, Bona caused 
Lodovico to be admitted Into theCastello of Milan by a garden 
door. Before Simonetta knew aught of what was happening, 
she had placed herself In Sforza's power. " It was a marvellous 
thing, 3 ' says Rosmini, "that the reconciliation between the 
Duke of Milan and the Duke of Bar! took place without 
Simonetta, hitherto the author and soul of all deliberations, 
having any knowledge or suspicion of it" l Tassino's Influence 
had achieved what the Ghlbelline nobility had failed to do. 
Thus It came about that " the weakness of a woman and the 
fine figure of a steward made greater changes in the destiny of 
Milan than a mighty monarch or a conqueror 33 . 2 Yet It is 
sasy to mistake occasion for cause. The Tassino incident only 
put the match to a fire for which the materials had been 
gradually collected by party factions In Milan and by jealousies 
between the States of Italy. Once the deed was done, Cecco 
Simonetta could only make the best of the situation by welcom- 
ing Lodovico with every mark of favour. Yet he knew that 
his fall was at hand. " Most Illustrious Duchess," he said to 
Bona, " I shall lose my head, and you, ere long, will lose the 
State." The prophecy was all too literally fulfilled. 

Lodovico's reconciliation with Bona took place on /th 

, C., Storia di Milano, vol. iii M p. 82, 2 Corio. 


September, Three days later the Ghibellines rose In arms, 
declaring that there could be no security for Lodovlco or them- 
selves so long as Cecco Slmonetta remained at large. Officially, 
Lodovlco had no part in this movement, and he even went to 
the length of asking his supporters to lay aside their weapons. 
Yet there is every reason to suppose that he was the true 
instigator of the rising. It was, at any rate, with no reluctance 
that he yielded to the importunity of the Ghibellines and sent 
Cecco and his brother, Giovanni, prisoners to Pavia. After a 
year's imprisonment the old man of seventy, who had spent 
his best years in loyal service to the House of Sforza, perished 
on the scaffold. Not so long ago, when the tide of fortune 
was flowing in Simonetta's favour, Lodovico had written to 
him from exile : " I beg you not to forget that I was the son 
of Duke Francesco and that you were his loyal servant, so that 
it would be small honour to either of us to offend the other ", 1 
Now Lodovico sent Simonetta to his death, and Bona, whom 
as a helpless widow Cecco had preserved on the throne of 
Milan, wrote to the French King of his execution as a matter 
for general rejoicing, Giovanni Simonetta's life was spared 
in consideration of his merits as a historian, and more especially 
of his panegyric of Francesco Sforza. He was relegated to 
Vercelli, from whence after a few years 1 exile he returned to 

Neither Bona nor the leading Ghibellines were allowed long 
in which to enjoy their triumph over Simonetta. Ascanio 
Sforza had followed his brother back to Milan where for some 
months he enjoyed considerable popularity and influence as 
Archbishop of Pavia and Papal Legate. Lodovico, however, 
would have no rivals in his newly won supremacy. In the 
spring of 1480 Ascanio was relegated to Ferrara, while Pietro 
Pusterla, Borromeo and other of the nobles who had helped 
to bring Lodovico into Milan were deprived of their offices. 
Meanwhile Tassino, realising that his own overthrow would 
only be postponed so long as Bona remained the chief power 
in the State, was doing his utmost to strengthen his position in 
the Castello. His personal friends, men " who would do any 
1 Beltrami, Castello di Milano. Letter of July, 1477. 


mischief at his least nod/ 3 filled the chief military and civil 
offices, until Tassinc/s authority became greater than that of 
the Castellan. Only in the Rocchetta, or inner fortress, Filippo 
degli EustachI remained faithful to the commands of the late 
Duke and would yield his charge to none until Gian Galeazzo 
should attain his majority. Tassino made it his chief object 
to oust Eostachi in favour of his own father, Gabriele. Before 
he could achieve this final triumph Lodovico Sforza thought 
fit to interfere. Acting in conjunction with Eustachi, Lodovico 
contrived to transfer the young Duke and his brother from the 
Corte Ducale to the Rocchetta. Thus Bona was separated 
from her children, and with the loss of the Duke's person went 
the loss of all real authority in the State. Tassino immediately 
left Milan, while Bona could only write to the Duke of Ferrara 
commending her favourite to him and deploring the circum- 
stances which rendered his departure necessary. " We have 
always found him (Tassino) faithful and studious of our comfort 
and honour," runs the letter, " nevertheless, it is necessary for 
us to adapt ourselves to the conditions of the time and to the 
will of the majority/' I Once within the Rocchetta, the twelve- 
year-old Duke was pronounced old enough to dispense with 
his mother's Regency. Lodovico Sforza, Roberto San Severino 
and Pallavicino constituted themselves his guardians, adding 
the name of Filippo Sforza to their number. In a letter which 
describes the fall of Tassino, Gian Galeazzo expressly states 
that the episode had in nowise detracted from his mother's 
honour, and that he would continue to consult her in all affairs 
of State. Nevertheless, Bona was forced to subscribe to con- 
ditions which rendered her position in the Government merely 
nominal She must give a written promise not to bear malice 
towards Lodovico and his supporters, nor to seek in any way 
to injure them. She must be content to leave her son in the 
Rocchetta and to receive only occasional visits from him. She 
must allow an inventory to be made of the doors of the 
Treasury, which would be fitted with six keys, one for the 
Duke, one for the Duchess, and four for the newly appointed 
guardians. Finding her position intolerable, Bona resolved, 
1 Letter of nth Oct., 1480. Cf. Rosmmi, vol. iv., p. 178. 


in November, 1480, to quit Milan for Savoy. She was not 
allowed to proceed farther than Abbiategrasso, where she was 
detained by order of Lodovico Sforza. " We are a prisoner/' 
she writes in May, 1482, "deprived of our liberty, ill-treated 
and outraged by that iniquitous and perfidious Signor Lodo- 
vico." 1 During her son's life-time, Bona remained in the 
Milanese, enjoying a pension of twenty-five thousand ducats 
a year. Soon after Gian Galeazzo's death she migrated to 
France, where she was still living in 1506. Bona of Savoy, 
pious, foolish, emotional, represented a type of woman who, at 
a time of political crisis, could not fail to bring disaster upon 
herself and her friends. Under more favourable circumstances 
her life, enlivened by an occasional flirtation, would have centred 
round her religion, her clothes and her children, while her 
qualities as a wife and mother and her amiable disposition 
would have carried her across the stage of history with some 
degree of credit. Yet fate had from the first marked her as 
Its victim. The husband who was suggested as an alternative 
to Galeazzo Maria Sforza was Edward IV. of England. The 
shifting of the scene from Milan to England and the substitu- 
tion of Richard of Gloucester for Lodovico Sforza as the villain 
of the piece, would not have materially altered the circumstances 
of Bona's tragedy. 

For a few months after Bona's flight, documents of State 
were for the most part signed by Gian Galeazzo alone, but early 
In 1481 his name appears in conjunction with that of his uncle. 
From henceforth no attempt was made to disguise the fact that 
Lodovico Sforza was the real ruler of Milan. Born at Vigevano 
In 1451, Lodovico Maria was the fourth son of Francesco and 
Bianca Sforza. He was known from childhood by the nick- 
name of II Moro, which he himself perpetuated by adopting 
the mulberry and the Moor's head as his devices. Many in- 
genious attempts have been made to account for the name, and 
it has only lately been made clear that Lodovico was called 
II Moro for the simple reason that his second name was 
originally Maurus. When he was five years old, however, he 
became seriously ill, and his mother, wishing to place him under 
1 Beltrami, Qastello di Milano, 


the protection of the Blessed Virgin, changed Mauras Into 
Maria. 1 Yet a nickname once acquired is not easily lost, 
Lodovico remained 11 Moro, and the mulberry-tree proved as 
fertile a theme for the artists and poets of Milan as did the 
laurel for the admirers of Lorenzo dei Medici. According to 
Simonetta, Lodovico had always been the clever boy of the 
family, and Duke Francesco had once prophesied that the child 
would live to make his mark in the world. The fact that 
Lodovico was chosen when only thirteen to head the contingent 
of Milanese troops which were to aid Pius II. in the crusade of 
1464, is doubtless a sign of his father's favour. On Francesco's 
death Lodovico was living at Cremona, where he studied with his 
tutor and gained some experience of government by hearing the 
complaints of the citizens. During the earlier part of Galeazzo's 
reign he was employed in various affairs of State. Galeazzo's 
will of 1471, placing Lodovico next in the succession to his 
own sons, shows the cordial relations which existed between the 
two brothers. Yet Galeazzo would run no risk of seeing his 
dominions divided among his brothers, and they, growing tired 
of being employed in small matters alone, decided to leave the 
Court. Thus the news of Galeazzo's murder reached Lodovico 
in France whence he returned to win at all costs his way to 
power. From the point of view of ability, two of the Sforza 
Dukes of Milan stand out head and shoulders above the other 
four. Francesco and Lodovico were both men of genius, 
although their genius showed itself in very divergent ways. 
If Francesco were a bom warrior, Lodovico, the refined and 
cultivated child of the Renaissance, was no less an adept in 
the arts of peace. In diplomacy, in intrigue, in schemes for 
the development of his dominions, or to put it briefly, in all 
that concerned the intellect alone, Lodovico had few rivals. 
Nevertheless, Francesco has on the whole the better claim to 
greatness. Whereas the man of action learned in the course 
of his chequered career to become a statesman, II Moro was 
never able to overcome the moral cowardice which rendered 
his brilliant intellectual qualities useless at the moment of crisis. 

1 Dina, A., Lodovico II Moro frima delta sua venuta al governo. Arch. Stor. 
Lomb., 1886. 


II Moro's rise to power Immediately produced a change in 
the foreign policy of Milan by renewing the alliance with 
Naples. Strange as it may seem when viewed in the light of 
future developments, King Ferrante looked upon Lodovico 
as his especial protege. On the death of Sforza Ferrante 
hastened to invest Lodovico with the Neapolitan fief of Ban, 
and in the autumn of 1479 he wrote to Filippo Sforza begging 
him to aid his brother in making himself master of Milan, so 
that the Duchy might be saved from the ruin which SImonetta 
would Inevitably bring upon It. Ferrante pleaded the ap- 
proaching marriage of his grand-daughter Isabella to Gian 
Galeazzo Sforza as an excuse for his Interest in the Internal 
affairs of Milan. Now II Moro made it his first care to pro- 
cure the ratification of this betrothal, which would place the 
friendship between Milan and Naples upon a sure basis. At 
the same time, Lodovico 3 s own betrothal incidentally brought 
him Into closer connection with the Court of Naples. Bound 
together by their common opposition to the encroachments of 
Venice, the relations between the Houses of Este and Sforza 
had for long been cordial Two marriage alliances had already 
been concluded between them, when Lodovico proposed to 
marry Isabella, the eldest daughter of Duke Ercole. She, how- 
ever, had already been promised to Francesco Gonzaga, and 
the Duke of Ferrara suggested as an alternative his second 
daughter, Beatrice, who was only a year younger than her 
sister. Isabella and Beatrice were the daughters of that Leonora 
of Aragon who had originally been betrothed to Sforza, Duke 
of Bari, and who had ultimately married the Duke of Ferrara. 
A few years earlier the two children had been taken to Naples 
to visit their maternal grandfather, King Ferrante. From that 
time Beatrice had remained at Naples, being treated by the old 
King as his adopted child. Thus II Moro agreed readily enough 
to the new arrangement, which achieved his purpose with re- 
gard to Ferrara while it strengthened the bond of union between 
himself and Ferrante of Naples. Meanwhile Lorenzo dei 
Medici's visit to Naples healed the breach which had resulted 
from the Pazzi War, and the Triple Alliance once more became 
the predominating factor in Italian politics. A return to the 


conditions which had existed before the League of 1474 
naturally found little favour with the Venetians, and they did 
their best to cause trouble in the Milanese by means of an 
alliance with the Swiss. Thanks, however, to the mediation of 
France, II Moro was able to forestall them. In May, 1480, 
public rejoicings took place in Milan in celebration of the two 
betrothals and of a " perpetual peace, league and confederation " 
with the Swiss. 

As the year 1480 drew to its close, II Moro might well 
congratulate himself upon the success of his coup d'etat. Not 
eighteen months ago he was a penniless adventurer. 1 Now all 
those who might challenge his supremacy in Milan had been 
swept from his path, while the chief powers of Italy had shown 
their readiness to accept him as the virtual ruler of the Duchy. 
It was not long, however, before fresh troubles were brought 
about by Lodovico 1 s sometime adherent Roberto San Severino. 
The man who had shared II Moro's exile, and whose arms had 
aided his rise to power, naturally expected to share in his 
triumph. Yet Lodovico, no less than Philippe de Commines, 
realised that " deux gros personnages ne se pen-vent endurer" 
and he was not prepared to allow San Severino more than a 
very limited amount of authority. Hence a quarrel ensued 
which ended in Roberto appearing before the Council in Sep- 
tember, 1481, to demand an increase of his salary as captain. 
His request being refused, he left Milan in anger to shut him- 
self up in his fortress at Castelnuovo. San Severino then pro- 
ceeded to intrigue with Obietto Fiesco and the enemies of the 
Sforza in Genoa, until Costanzo Sforza besieged him at Castel- 
nuovo and forced him to fly to Venice. Costanzo Sforza, Lord 
of Pesaro, had followed the family profession, and was at this 
time a condottiere in the service of his Milanese cousins. He 
had orders to proceed from Castelnuovo to the neighbourhood 
of Parma, where Pier Maria Rossi was holding some twenty- 
two castles against the Milanese Government. Costanzo had 
hoped to work on the ancient friendship of the Rossi for 
Francesco Sforza to effect a reconciliation, but Pier Maria would 

1 Lodovico and Sforza were deprived of their pension from Milan when they 
broke bounds in 1479. 


listen to BO overtures from a Government in which his Palla- 
vlcini rivals were influential. He refused to obey a summons 
to Milan and prepared to make an effective resistance to Cos- 
tanzo by seeking aid from Venice. 

Meanwhile fresh war was brewing beyond the frontiers of 
the Duchy. The ambitions of Girolamo RIario had only been 
increased by his recent acquisition of Forll, and they now soared 
as high as Ferrara, which was certainly a papal fief, but a fief 
over which the Pope exercised the most nominal control. 
Venice also had her ambitions with regard to Ferrara and her 
grievances against the House of Este. In spite of the mono- 
poly claimed by the Venetian salt-works at Cervia, the Duke 
of Ferrara continued to make salt at Comacchlo. The resident 
judge, whom Venice was privileged to keep In Ferrara to try 
suits In which Venetian subjects were involved, had recently 
been excommunicated. Above all, the acquisition of the fertile 
district known as the Polesina of Rovigo would extend the 
southern frontiers of Venice from the Adige to the Po. Hence, 
when Pier Maria Rossi appealed to Venice for aid against 
Milan, a scheme was already laid for the partition of Ferrara 
between Venice and the Papacy. The Imperial fiefs of Modena 
and Reggio should fall to the Venetians while Ferrara itself 
should revert to Sixtus IV., who would doubtless bestow It 
upon his nephew. Now Venice prepared to send troops in 
Ross? s support and demanded free passage for them through 
Ferrarese territory. Ercole d'Este, as the ally of Milan, re- 
fused to allow the troops to pass, and in so doing he furnished 
the Venetians with the desired occasion for declaring war. 
By May, 1482, hostilities had begun In which all the five 
Powers were Involved. Venice and the Papacy combined for 
the overthrow of the Duke of Ferrara while the Triple Alliance 
took arms in his defence. 

The War of Ferrara came to the Italian soldiers of fortune 
as a windfall. War was waged round several distinct centres, 
and there was hardly a condottiere of repute who did not find 
employment Roberto San Severino, who at once received a 
ccndotta from the Venetians, began operations by seizing 
Ficarolo, which gave him the passage of the Po. Federico of 


Urbino was made Captain-General of the Triple Alliance and 
his troops protected Ferrara, although, they could not prevent 
San Severino from occupying the Polesina. Meanwhile Alfonso 
of Calabria, at the head of the Neapolitan contingent, appeared 
within a few miles of Rome, and the Pope, in alarm, sent post- 
haste for the Venetian Captain-General Roberto Malatesta, 
Costanzo Sforza had been taken into Florentine service., and 
he carried through an isolated episode of the war by wresting 
Citta di Castello from the Papacy. In the Parma district, Pier 
Maria Rossi was active, having received, it is said, a substantial 
sum from Venice in order that he might harass the Duke of 
Milan. These various campaigns produced heavy losses on 
both sides, although marsh fevers proved more formidable foes 
than the forces of the enemy. In August Malatesta inflicted 
a crushing defeat on Alfonso of Calabria at Campo Morto, but 
before he had time to follow up his victory he succumbed to 
the unhealthy climate of the Campagna and died at Rome. 
Almost at the same time Federico of Urbino was forced to 
leave his camp among the marshes of the Po, to breathe Ms 
last at Rimini. So died two of the most prominent condottieri 
of their day. True to the instinct of brotherhood which bound 
mercenary to mercenary, each was found to have made the other 
the guardian of his children and lands. Meanwhile the death 
of Pier Maria Rossi, in September, helped to end the trouble 
round Parma. Rossi's illegitimate son, Beltramo, joined hands 
with Milan against his brother, and Guido, who had succeeded 
to his father's policy, found himself unable to resist the double 
attack. In October he made his peace with the Government, 
sending his son to Milan as a guarantee for his good 
behaviour. Before the year was out, however, the Duke of 
Ferrara was reduced to the most desperate straits. San 
Severino defeated the Ferrarese and Milanese forces at 
Argenta, sending some three hundred prisoners to Venice, 
while his son Fracasso approached near enough to Ferrara 
to plant the standard of S. Mark in the ducal park. At 
the same time the city was ravaged by plague, and the Duke 
himself lay dangerously ill in the Castello. Thanks to the 
loyalty of the citizens and to Lodovico Sforza's timely aid 3 


the crisis was tided over until the winter of 1482 brought 
unexpected relief. 

Sixtus IV. had embarked on the war as a means of 
strengthening his territorial power in Romagna. He per- 
ceived, ere long, that Venice was the predominant partner in 
the newly formed alliance, and that Venice and not the Papacy 
would reap the fruits of victory. Moreover, a new conciliar 
movement was maturing at Basel, which Milan and Florence 
hastened to support as a means of bringing the Pope to reason. 
Fear of Venice and fear of a Council together produced a 
somersault in the Papal policy. In December Sixtus IV. 
made peace with the Triple Alliance, leaving Venice to carry 
on the struggle single-handed. More than this, when the allied 
powers met at Cremona in February, 1483, a scheme was mooted 
for the partition of Venetian territory which forestalled the 
League of Cambrai. Yet while her enemies divided her 
possessions among themselves, Venice made use of weapons 
which were calculated to cause anxiety to the rulers of Naples 
and Milan, if not to their allies. Rene of Lorraine became 
Captain-General of the Venetian forces, on the understanding 
that Venice would aid him to enforce his rights over Naples 
which he claimed as the grandson of Rene of Anjou. At the 
same time Roberto San Severino got across the Adda and 
attacked the Milanese, while a happy chance alone saved II 
Moro from becoming the victim of a conspiracy which was 
inspired and nourished by Venice. The ostensible object of 
the conspiracy was the restoration to power of Bona and her 
son. The fatal deed was planned for S. Ambrose Day, 1483, 
when the drama of 1476 would be repeated, and II Moro would 
be killed as he entered the basilica of S. Ambrose to hear Mass 
in honour of the saint. When the moment came, Lodovico 
entered the church by a side door in order to avoid the crowd, 
and Luigi da Vimercate, who was told off to kill him on his 
return to the Castello, if the first attempt should fail, was 
discovered with a naked dagger in his hand. Vimercate died 
a traitor's death, and II Moro's position in Milan was if anything 
strengthened. Meanwhile Alfonso of Calabria, no longer 
pampered in his pa$3age by the papaj fprcS ? could march on 


Lombardy. Having first defeated the Venetians at Argenta, 
he drove San Severino from the Milanese. 

Early in 1484 the allies met for another congress In the 
Castello of Milan where campaigns were planned for the follow- 
ing spring. Yet Venice had a trump-card to play of which the 
mere production proved the caose of peace. She took the 
bold step of Inviting the young King, Charles VI I L of France, 
to Italy In order that he might further the Angevin cause In 
Naples and that of the Duke of Orleans In Milan. II Moro 
had every cause to fear French Intervention In Italy at this 
juncture. At the outset of the war, SIxtus IV. had proposed 
that Louis XL should take steps to restore Bona to her right- 
ful position in Milan as the only means of saving Gian 
Galeazzo from the clutches of his uncle. Louis XL had con- 
tented himself with demanding that Bona should receive her 
pension, and that she should be treated with all due honour, 
"without In any way detracting from the authority which 
SIgnor Lodovlco has In the State of Milan ", 1 Yet the Indigna- 
tion of Anne of Beaujeu at the treatment to which Bona had 
been subjected was so well known that the Milanese ambassa- 
dor hardly dared to appear at the French Court to congratulate 
Charles VIII. on his accession. At the same time the pre- 
tensions of the Duke of Orleans and the presence of a French 
garrison In AstI were a perpetual menace to the authority of 
the Sforza In Milan. Besides his fear of France, the growing 
coolness between himself and Alfonso of Calabria rendered 
Lodovlco anxious for peace, Alfonso had begun to make 
unpleasant remarks about the state of tutelage in which his 
future son-in-law, Gian Galeazzo, was still kept, and II Moro 
looked forward to the day when this dangerous ally should 
turn his back on Lombardy. Hence Lodovlco Sforza was 
largely Instrumental In procuring the Peace of Bagnolo In 
August, 1484, which, as Its terms plainly show, was forced 
upon the other Powers after private negotiations between 
Milan and Venice. The acquisition of the Polesma and the 
recognition of her rights with regard to Ferrara gave to Venice 
all that she had taken arms to obtain, and it was commonly 
1 Cf. Rosmini, vol. iv., p. 221, 


reported that II Moro received 60,000 ducats as the price of 
his mediation. Be that as it may, when San Severino had 
made peace with Milan and when the Rossi were reduced to 
submission, the problems which had drawn Lodovico into the 
contest were satisfactorily solved. The Pope and Riario, on 
the other hand, had gained nothing by the war. Sixtus 
IV. branded the Peace of Bagnolo as "shameful and igno- 
minious". So great was the Pope's wrath that his death, a few 
days after the peace was proclaimed, was commonly attributed 
to the access of fury with which he greeted the news. 

During the years which followed the War of Ferrara, Lodo- 
vico Sforza found ample scope for his ingenuity as a diplomatist 
With Milan firmly in his grasp and with the five States leagued 
together for the preservation of their dominions, II Moro only 
wished to maintain the status quo and to avoid any disturbance 
which might be the cause of foreign intervention. Unfortun- 
ately, there were restless spirits in Rome and Naples who did 
not share his pacific disposition. The new Pope, Innocent 
VI IL, was persuaded by Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere to 
revive the papal claim to tribute from the Kings of Naples and 
to reverse his predecessor's policy of conciliation and friendship 
towards the Aragonese dynasty. As of old, the Pope found 
willing allies among the Neapolitan barons who were growing 
daily more restless under the overbearing rule of Ferrante 
and his son. Alfonso's head had been turned by his successes 
In the War of Ferrara, and on his imprisonment of one of the 
leading barons of Aquila the nobility would bear no longer 
with his cruelty and insolence. The year 1485 saw the King- 
dom of Naples in the thick of the Barons' War, with the Pope 
as the acknowledged leader of the malcontents. Nothing could 
be more displeasing to II Moro, for Innocent VI I L of course 
invited Rene of Lorraine to Italy, and it seemed likely that the 
French monarch would encourage him to go, as an easy means 
of getting rid of a discontented cousin. Hence Lodovico's 
first step was to implore the Venetians not to allow Roberto 
San Severino to enter papal service, so that Innocent might 
at least be deprived of a powerful arm with which to trouble 
Italy. When, in spite of the promises of Venice, San Severino 


assumed the command of the papal troops and Pen-ante 
appealed to Milan for aid, Lodovico still hesitated to take 
up arms. Lorenzo del Medici, however, persuaded him that 
Intervention was necessary. Thus he agreed that Nlccolo and 
Virginlo Orsini should be employed by Milan and Florence to 
aid the King of Naples, while, after repeated delays, a Milanese 
contingent under Gian Giacomo Trivulzio was despatched to 
the scene of war. It was doubtless in accordance with II 
Moro's instructions that Trivulzio chiefly concerned himself in 
negotiations for the cessation of hostilities. At length, In 
August^ 1486, peace came. Fen-ante agreed to pardon the 
barons and to acknowledge the papa! suzerainty, while Milan 
and Florence guaranteed that he should keep his promises. 
The fact that Ferrante shamelessly broke every engagement 
directly the opportunity arose troubled Lodovico not the 
least Thanks to his efforts and to those of Lorenzo del 
Medici, the war was over before it had become complicated by 
French intervention, while the aid which he had rendered to 
Naples helped to patch up the quarrel between himself and 
Alfonso of Calabria. Hence, in II Moro's eyes the conclusion 
was eminently satisfactory, and the mysterious disappearance 
of the Neapolitan barons was but an incident in Ferrante's 
Internal policy with which the ruler of Milan had no concern. 
The Barons' War proved to be the last appearance of Roberto 
San Severlno In Italian warfare as he died a year later fighting 
for Venice in Tyrol. Two of his sons, Francesco, Count of 
Caiazzo, and Galeazzo, had fled to the Court of the Sforza 
during the war of Ferrara and had remained since then In 
Milanese service. So now the body of II Moro's old comrade 
was brought to its last resting-place In the church of S. Francesco 
at Milan. 

In their policy with regard to the Neapolitan trouble 
Lodovico Sforza and Lorenzo del Medici had been of one mind, 
and each had profited by the support of the other. Never- 
theless, the relations between Milan and Florence were some- 
what strained owing to an apple of contention which existed 
in the town of Sarzana. This important fortress, close to the 
LIgurlan sea-coast, guarded the most frequented route from 


Milan to Florence, and both Powers eyed it with watchful 
jealousy. During the Pazzi War, Sarzana had been seized by 
the FregosI who had sold It to the Bank of S. George. Since 
then Florence had never ceased to agitate for Its recovery. In 
1484 the Florentines captured Pietrasanta, but it was only in 
1487 that Sarzana was regained. Lorenzo rightly suspected 
Lodovico to be the cause of the delay, while II Moro on his 
side did not attempt to conceal his disgust at the successes 
of Florence. Incidentally, however, they furthered Lodovico's 
Interests with regard to Genoa. Archbishop Paolo Fregoso 
still continued to be the life and soul of Genoese politics, and 
he had profited by the general unsettlement to make himself 
Doge. Now, with the loss of Sarzana, party strife broke out 
in Genoa with its accustomed violence. The Archbishop, after 
expatiating on the dangers of a war with Florence and the 
advantages of Milanese aid, persuaded Genoa to return to the 
Sforza Protectorate. Yet the presence of the Archbishop In 
Genoa was not conducive to peace. In 1488 he shut himself 
up in the Castelletto from whence he waged war against 
Obietto Flesco and the Adorni. The Count of Calazzo was 
despatched from Milan to restore order, while Lodovico per- 
suaded Archbishop Paolo to yield the fortress and the town 
of Savona in exchange for an annual revenue of 4,000 ducats. 
In 1490, when the Archbishop completed his bargain by leaving 
Genoa for Rome, II Moro had won a triumph over Genoa 
which practically amounted to reconquest Glan Galeazzo re- 
ceived a fresh investiture of Genoa from the French King at the 
price of 8,000 ducats. This Commines, with the remembrance 
of the handsome percentage which he had himself received out 
of the 50,000 ducats paid In 1478, pronounced to be a wholly 
unworthy sum. Meanwhile the acquisitions of Genoa had not 
made matters easier with regard to Milan and Florence. There 
was now no longer an independent State to act as a buffer 
between their rival ambitions. At this time Lodovico was 
suffering considerable embarrassment on the northern frontiers 
of the Duchy from the aggressions of the Swiss Cantons. In 
1487 a body of Swiss occupied Bormio in the Valtellina, while 
the people of Valais poured over the Simplon to besiege 


Domodossola. After stubborn resistance on the part of the 
Swiss both attacks were repulsed. They served to show, how- 
ever, the ambitions of the Cantons with regard to Lombardy, 
which were, at no very distant date, to become of vita! import- 
ance in the history of Milan. 

The year 1488 is famous in the annals of the Sforza on 
account of Caterina Sforza's heroic defence of the fortress at 
Forli against her husband's murderers. Girolamo Riario had 
never found favour in Forli, and his attempt to win popularity 
by remitting the taxes on the peasantry only incensed the 
citizens against him. In April, 1488, he fell a victim to some 
malcontent courtiers, Lodovico and Cecco Orsi, who with the 
aid of a couple of soldiers contrived to murder Girolamo in 
his private apartments, where he was resting after his evening 
meal Caterina and her children were taken as prisoners to 
the house of the Orsi, but not before she had sent appeals for 
help to Bologna and Milan and had commanded the Castellan 
to hold the fortress at all costs. Her promptness stood her 
in good stead, for the Castellan refused to yield unless Caterina 
herself should command him to do so. With a view to secur- 
ing their ends, the Orsi allowed Caterina to enter the fortress 
for a private conference with the Castellan. Once within its 
walls she raised the Sforza standard and waged war on the 
town. Her children had been detained as hostages by the 
Orsi, but even the threats to murder them before her eyes 
could not move her. She continued to hold out until, in a 
fortnight's time, an army of some 12,000 men, led by Galeazzo 
San Severino and Giovanni Bentivoglio, came to her relief. 
Thereupon the Orsi fled, Caterings son Ottaviano was pro- 
claimed Lord of Forll, and on 3Oth April this worthy daughter 
of a fighting race became the virtual ruler of the city. All 
Italy rang with the news of her triumph, and when Galeazzo 
San Severino returned to Milan with a somewhat easily won 
reputation, he was made Captain-General of the ducal armies. 
The favour which II Moro bestowed on this brilliant tournament 
winner had for some time excited the jealousy of older men. 
Now Gian Giacomo Trivulzio regarded his preferment as a 
slight on himself. He departed in a huff for Naples, having 


vowed perpetual enmity towards the race of Sforza in general 
and towards Lodovico in particular. 

The reign of Gian Galeazzo produced considerable develop- 
ments in the government and administration of Milan. Corio's 
mention of the summons of two Councils or Senates at the 
opening of the reign has led to the assumption that these 
Councils were the creation of Simonetta. It does not appear, 
however, that they differed in any way from the Council of 
Justice and the Secret Council, which had their origin under 
Gian Galeazzo Visconti at the latest, and which had been re- 
vived on the accession of Francesco Sforza. Hence Corio's 
words can only refer to a reform of the members of the Councils, 
to the summons, that is, of a new set of men, who would render 
effective support to Bona's Government. Yet, although no 
change took place in its constitution, the importance of the 
Secret Council reached its zenith under Simonetta's regime. 
The Council met almost every day, sometimes in the afternoon 
as well as in the morning. Practically the whole business of 
internal administration as well as matters of external politics 
were laid before it. So numerous were its functions that it 
showed a tendency to split into two separate bodies. The 
Secret Council of the Castello, consisting of not more than 
ten members, became the true organ of the executive, while 
the larger body, spoken of as the Secret Council at the 
Court of Arengo, was only occasionally consulted on political 
matters. 1 With the rise to power of Lodovico, however, the 
, development of the Secret Council received a check. Little 
more is heard of the Inner Council of the Castello, and although 
the Secret Council at the Arengo continued to exist, its political 
importance was superseded by that of the Secretaries of State. 
Of these, the chief was Bartolomeo Calco, Secretary for Foreign 
Affairs, who had special clerks under him for France, Venice 
and other States, with which Milan was in frequent communi- 
cation. Calco it was who opened the diplomatic despatches 
and determined their answers, submitting only the more 
important documents to Lodovico. He, too, arranged for the 
reception of foreign ambassadors in Milan, while he acted as 
1 Del Giudice, op. cit. 


the means of communication between the home Government 
and the Milanese ambassadors abroad. There were besides 
three other secretaries, each with Ms own apartments In the 
CasteUo and with his especial sphere of influence, Jacopo 
Antiquario controlled the ecclesiastical affairs of Milan, Giovanni 
da Bellinzona was Secretary for Justice, and Jacopo Terafino 
Secretary for Finance. This system of secretaries concen- 
trated the power In Lodovico' s own hands, and formed part of 
his general policy of filing the chief offices of State with men 
dependent on himself alone, to the exclusion of all possible 
rivals. Hence the decline of the Council, which was composed 
of men drawn from the leading families of Milan, whom II 
Moro was least anxious to trust After the Diet of Cremona, 
for example, Lodovico conferred with the Council as to the 
advisability of embarking on a fresh campaign against Venice, 
but its share in matters of State depended entirely on the will 
of the rider who consulted it or not " as it appeared to him the 
circumstances and cases deserved "* 

In 1489 the last rival to Lodovico's authority was removed 
in the person of Filippo degli Eustachi. He was lured from 
the Rocchetta by a ruse, to be seized by the San Severini and 
imprisoned at Abbiategrasso on the charge of having agreed 
to cede the Castello of Milan to the Emperor. Eustachfs 
disgrace left II Moro in possession of the Rocchetta, and 
Commines is probably right when he hints that the accusation 
of treachery was merely a convenient method of attaining this 
end Lodovico was now at the height of his power. The 
ducal revenues amounted to between six and seven hundred 
thousand ducats, and although some considered this excessive, 
in view of the increasing prosperity of Milan the Duchy was 
probably not over- taxed. This prosperity was in great measure 
due to II Moro's wise economic policy and especially to his 
irrigation works which did much to enhance the productive 
power of his dominions. Meanwhile Gian Galeazzo had grown 
up weak both in mind and body. <c The aforesaid Duke was 
not very wise," 2 forms the opinion of a contemporary chronicler. 


2 Porto, Venere G., Memorials come il Re di Francia passa in Italia. Arch. 
Stor. Ital., vi., 2. 


Under such circumstances there is little wonder that lie re- 
mained a passive instrument in the hands of II Moro, or that 
In verse, in epigram and in art alike Lodovico Sforza was 
represented both as the guardian of Milan and as the arbiter 
of Italy. 

From the outset of his career in Milan II Moro spared no 
pains to gather round him men of genius of every kind, who 
flocked to his Court as " bees seek honey " until Milan was 
transformed into a new Athens. The Court poet, Bernardo 
Bellincione, addressed one of his sonnets to "four illustrious 
men who have grown up under the shadow of II Moro ". Their 
names will serve as an illustration of the generous patronage 
which Lodovico bestowed upon every form of culture. With 
the learned classical scholar and historian, Giorgio Merula, are 
joined the goldsmith, Caradosso, who was largely employed by II 
Moro both as a craftsman and as a collector of antiques, " Maestro 
Giannino, the Ferrarese gun-founder," and the great Florentine, 
Leonardo da Vinci. The arrival of Leonardo da Vinci gave to 
the Court of Milan not only a unique artist but a brilliant addi- 
tion to its society. " Leonardo was so pleasing in conversation 
that he drew the souls of men towards himself," is Vasari's 
verdict, and his great beauty and charming manners further in- 
creased his power of attraction. Hence the Court hung upon 
his fables and satires ; his epigrams were on every one's lips. 
He discussed pure mathematics with Luca Pacioli, Galeazzo 
San Severino consulted Jbiim on military questions, while he 
joined in the conferences upon philosophy and literature 
conducted by II Moro and other kindred spirits of the 

If Milan were the home of talent, it was no less the home 
of splendour. In January, 1489, Isabella of Aragon came to 
Milan as a bride, and the festivities which attended her wedding 
were conspicuous even in the Renaissance for their magnifi- 
cence and ingenuity. Ermes Sforza, the Duke's brother, went 
to Naples with a suite of some four hundred persons "clad like 
so many kings," from whence he escorted Isabella by sea to 
Genoa. The meeting between the bridal pair took place at 
Tortona, and was celebrated by a banquet at which each course 


was sensed by mythological characters In appropriate costume. 
Fish was handed round by naiads. Jason bore in the Golden 
Fleece. Hebe produced" wines which rivalled nectar and ambrosia 
In their preclousness. Orpheus offered birds which, he declared 
in elegant verse, had flocked round him to hear the melodies 
which, he had raised in praise of Isabella of Aragon. The 
wedding itself took place in the Duomo at Milan to the accom- 
paniment of fresh pageants, and the festivities were crowned by 
the performance of a masque called // Paradiso, written for the 
occasion by Beliincione and organised by Leonardo. Two 
years later there was another round of gaiety in honour of II 
Moro's wedding, which took place in the Castello of Pavia on 
I /th January, 1491. The piece de resistance on this occasion 
was a tournament in \vhich Galeazzo San Severino as usual re- 
mained the victor, and received the pallium of gold brocade 
from the bride's hands in a costume which Leonardo had de- 
signed for him. 

With the advent of Beatrice d'Este the Court of Milan 
gained a touch of charm without which its cultured splendour 
would have been incomplete. This sixteen-year-old bride pos- 
sessed to the full the art of enjoyment, and the zest with which 
she threw herself into eveiy entertainment that arose could not 
but be infectious. II Moro was completely captivated by his 
young wife, whose gay vivacity formed a refreshing contrast to 
his thoughtful and somewhat melancholy disposition. Many 
were the letters which he wrote to his sister-in-law, Isabella 
Gonzaga, dwelling with mingled amusement and pride on his 
wife's doings. 1 " My wife is so good at hawking/' runs one 
letter, "that she surpasses me entirely/' Not content with 
this comparatively mild form of sport, Beatrice also joined 
in the pursuit of such big game as boars, deer and wolves. 
On one occasion she was placed in considerable danger by 
a wounded stag who turned on her horse and made it rear 
violently. Beatrice^ however, preserved both her courage 
and her seat, and when the rest of the party rushed to 

1 C/. LuzioRenier, Delle Relazioni di Isabella (TEste Gonzaga con Lodovico 
e Beatrice Sforza. Arch, Stor. Lom"b., 1890. 


her rescue they found her laughing over the adventure. In 
another letter Lodovlco describes Beatrice and Isabella of Ara- 
gon going out into the city with some of their ladles to mas- 
querade as housewives in quest of provisions. This mad freak 
went very near to producing serious consequences. The scarves 
which they wore on their heads being strange to the eye of the 
Milanese, some women began to make rude remarks at their 
expense. Beatrice returned the compliment with interest, and 
they narrowly escaped coming to blows. With all her love of 
a frolic Beatrice d'Este was no irresponsible child, to whom 
amusement was the end of existence. She was fitted both by 
education and taste to share in her husband's intellectual pur- 
suits, and she possessed the force of character to oust Lodovico's 
mistress, Cecilia Gallerani, from her position at the Court 
within three months of his marriage. This accomplished lady 
was, moreover, a keen politician, and as time went on her tact 
and power of rising to the occasion proved of no small value to 
her husband. 

So the meny life flowed on and only one discordant note 
could be heard among the general harmony. Gradually, how- 
ever, this note waxed louder until the sound of it went nigh to 
drowning all the rest The rivalry between Isabella of Aragon 
and Beatrice d'Este dated from the moment of Beatrice's entry 
into Milan, when the newly made bride must needs give pre- 
cedence to the reigning Duchess. It did not cease until it had 
shaken the very foundations of the Sforza State. A more 
delicate situation can hardly be conceived. Isabella and 
Beatrice were first cousins, they were both highly cultivated, 
strong-willed and ambitious. Isabella was a few years older 
than Beatrice and -as the wife of Gian Galeazzo she naturally 
expected to be the first lady in Milan. Yet she found herself 
completely overshadowed by her more brilliant cousin, who, as 
the wife of II Moro, held the reins of power and could lord it 
over her rival in those countless petty ways in which only 
women can torment one another. The crowning insulfr : ^ 
when Beatrice gave birth to a son in January, 1493. 
months earlier the birth of Isabella's son, Francesco, had 
been celebrated by a small tournament, but now little Ercole 




Certosa of Pavia 


was ushered Into the world with rejoicings which befitted the 
birth of the heir to the Duchy. 1 It is small wonder that 
Isabella grew desperate and resolved henceforth to use every 
means In her power to overthrow the usurpers. 

1 Portioli, A. T N" a set fa di Slassimilicino Sfcrza. Arch. Stor. Looib., 1882. 



TO the student of Italian history the year 1492 may well 
seem the beginning of the end the end, that Is, of the 
Independence of the native Italian States, and of the Sforza 
dynasty In Milan with the rest Henceforth the Alps served no 
longer as the natural barrier between Italians and ultramon- 
tanes, but became, rather, the highway of European armies. 
The days of petty local wars and of the maintenance of the 
balance of power by means of leagues and counter leagues be- 
tween the chief Italian States were at an end, and Italy was 
plunged into the vortex of European politics. 

The aims which determined the diplomatic relations of 
Milan in 1492 were those which had been from the first the 
guiding principles of Sforza's foreign policy. II Moro, as his 
father and brother before him, concentrated his energies on the 
preservation of the Triple Alliance and on the continuance of 
friendly relations between Milan and France. Yet before the 
year was out the final breach in the Triple Alliance was already 
visible, while friendship with France was hurrying the ruler of 
Milan Into a course of action which proved his ultimate destruc- 
tion. When Gian Galeazzo received the Investiture of Genoa, 
II Moro was anxious to renew the league with France which 
had originated under Louis XL The French ambassadors, 
however, insisted that Lodovico must first restore three cities 
which he had taken from the Marquis of Montferrat, with the 
result that the conclusion of the treaty was deferred for another 
year. Hence the quarrel between Charles VIII. and Maximi- 
lian, King of the Romans, over Anne of Brittany was particularly 
acceptable to II Moro. " The Duke thinks," wrote a Florentine 


ambassador to Lorenzo del Medici, " that the King, now that he 
has quarrelled with Maximilian by rejecting his daughter, will 
more readily consent to renew the ancient league ... he sup- 
poses that a big: war will break out between France and the 
King of the Romans." 1 Charles VIII. had, Indeed, no wish to 
see ililan on the side of his enemies, and In January, 1492, a 
fresh embassy crossed the Alps to conclude the desired alliance. 
Thereupon^ Carlo da Barbiano, Couat of Belgioloso, was de- 
spatched to the French Court as the permanent Milanese am- 
bassador. With him went the Count of Caiazzo and Galeazzo 
San SeverinOj nominally in order that they might thank Charles 
VIII. for his friendly offices towards Milan, and assure him of 
the entire devotion of his new ally, really in order to strengthen 
the position of II Moro at the French Court by a judicious dis- 
semination of bribes. Lodovico had found himself obliged to 
yield on the question of the Montferrat cities, and this made 
him the more anxious to impress Charles with the value of the 
Milanese alliance. Hence Caiazzo received special injunctions 
to show the French King a letter from Henry VII. of Eng- 
land, warning; the Milanese Government of the ambitions of 
Orleans, and inviting it to share with him in the war with 
France, In all these negotiations there was no word of a 
French expedition to Italy. The alliance with Charles VI II, 
while it gave weight to the position of Milan in Italian politics, 
was sought by Lodovico as the time-honoured means of keeping 
the French on their own side of the Alps. Yet Charles VIII. 
had not inherited his father's pacific policy with regard to Italy. 
In his eyes the Milanese alliance was a step towards the realisa- 
tion of long-standing ambitions on the part of the French 
Crown. Since the days when Asti had first passed to the Duke 
of Orleans as the dowry of Valentma Visconti, Genoa, Savoy, 
Saluzzo, Montferrat had come, as It were, within the French 
sphere of influence. Now, after the death of Rene of Anjou 
and his nephew/ Charles VIII. represented in Ms own person 

1 Delaborde, H. F., Expedition de Charles VIII. en Italia, p. 226. Paris, 

2 Rene" of Anjou disinherited his grandson, Ren6 of Lorraine, and left his 
possessions to his nephew ? Charles <?f Maine, with remainder to the French Crown, 


the Angevin claims to Naples, and he resolved to assert those 
claims with, the armies of France at his back. Jean Cloppet was 
sent to Milan in September, 1492, and Lodovico, in describing Ms 
interview with him to Belgioioso, makes the following remark : 
" Afterwards he said something to us about the expedition to 
Naples, Oe this point," he adds, " I had nothing particular 
to propose/ 7 J This is II Moro's first mention of the Neapolitan 
expedition. It is clear from his own ivords that the scheme 
was distasteful to him, and that he intended to oppose it, in so 
far as he could do so without offending the French King. 

Meanwhile the death of Lorenzo dei Medici in April, 1492, 
proved no small blow to the peace of Italy and to the main- 
tenance of the Triple Alliance. So long as Lorenzo lived, his 
influence was always on the side of moderation, and he would 
have done his utmost to bridge over a rupture between Milan 
and Naples. Hence the rise to power of Piero dei Medici, a 
youth of the smallest political capacity, at a time when the 
relations between the other two members of the Triple Alliance 
were growing daily more strained, was peculiarly unfortunate. 
The effect of this change in the government of Florence was 
realised to the full at the time of Alexander VI.'s election to 
the Papacy. On the death of Innocent VIII. the papal election 
lay to all appearance between Ascanio Sforza and Giuliano della 
Rovere. Ascanio, however, despairing of his own success, de- 
termined to keep his rival out by throwing the weight of his 
influence on the side of a third candidate, Cardinal Borgia. 
Thanks to Ascanio's efforts and to his own wholesale bribery, 
Borgia became Pope Alexander VL He openly acknowledged 
his indebtedness to Ascanio, making him Vice-Chancellor, and 
declaring that he would prove the most grateful of Popes 
towards his Milanese friends. The defeated candidate, Giuliano 
della Rovere, was at this time in close touch with King Ferrante. 
II Moro, anxious to counteract any ill-feeling which might have 
arisen at Naples over Ascanio's share in the election, proposed 
that the Triple Alliance should send a joint embassy of con- 
gratulation to the new Pope. The fact that the Neapolitan 
ambassador would, by right of precedence, be the mouthpiece 
* Delaborde, op. cit., p. 258. 


of the others rendered the compliment to Ferrante ail the more 
delicate. Sndh. subtleties were, however, past the comprehen- 
sion of Piero del Medici's small brain. In order that the Flor- 
entine envoy should not be deprived of the opportunity for 
delivering a carefully prepared oration, lie persuaded Ferrante 
not to agree to Lodovico's proposal. The members of the Triple 
Alliance congratulated Alexander VI. separately, and a golden 
opportunity was lost of strengthening the already loosening 
bonds between the three Powers. 

The birth of II Mora's son, as has been already noticed* 
proved too much for Duchess Isabella's powers of endurance. 
If only for the sake of her child, she resolved to make a 
desperate bid for the supremacy which was hers only in name. 
Hence her famous letter to Alfonso of Calabria in which she 
describes Lodovico as acting In all things as if he and not Gian 
Galeazzo were the true Duke, while she and her husband were 
forced to live as private persons. The letter concludes with an 
appeal to Alfonso to come to the aid of his unhappy daughter. 
" If you will not help us," It runs 5 " I would rather die by my own 
hands than bear this tyrannous yoke and suffer in a strange 
country under the eyes of a rival. 7 ' l Isabella's appeal fell on 
soil already prepared to receive It. Since his arrival at the 
Court of Naples, Gian Glacomo Trivulzlo had been loud in the 
proclamation of her wrongs, and Alfonso, whose enmity towards 
Lodovico dated from the War of Ferrara, was ready to take 
arms without more ado In his daughter's defence. Yet such 
rash measures did not meet with Ferrante's approval His 
prudence contrived an embassy to the Court of Milan, which 
began by thanking Lodovico for his good government of the 
Duchy during Gian Galeazzo's minority, and then suggested 
that he should crown his virtues by retiring in his nephew's 
favour, II Moro treated the Neapolitan ambassadors with 
every mark of attention, but his vague reply that secret enemies 
had yet to be destroyed before he could lay aside the reins of 
power, was tantamount to a refusal. While, on the one hand, 
preparations for war with Milan began at Naples, Lodovico, on 

1 Cor Io. The historian probably composed the letter, although a communi- 
cation to the same effect passed between Isabella and Naples. 


Ms side, to seek fresh allies, and to devise means for his 

own safety. 

II Moro's first measure of defence was the formation of 
a between Venice, the Papacy, Milan, Mantua and 

Ferrara for the preservation of the States of the Church, and 
for the maintenance of the present Government in Milan. 
This revolution In Milanese foreign policy was rendered easy 
by the friendly relations which had existed between Lodovico 
and the Venetian Signoria since the conclusion of the Peace of 
Bagnolo. The Pope, moreover, was incensed against Naples 
and Florence in that their rulers had facilitated the sale of 
some papal fiefs near Rome by the late Pope's son to Virginio 
Orsini, regardless of Alexander VL's rights. Hence in April, 
1493, this novel combination of the Powers was published. 
Yet II Moro was at once too clear-sighted and too timid to 
put great faith in the alliance of either the Pope or Venice. In 
an unhappy moment, < forgetting/ 3 as Corio expresses it, " that 
God made the mountains as boundaries between ultramontanes 
and Italians," he bethought him that Charles VIIL's Neapoli- 
tan expedition, which he had hitherto discouraged, might be 
used for his own ends. "Our influence," wrote Lodovico to 
Belgioioso in February, 1493, "no longer suffices, the Most 
Christian King must interpose his." x For a few months longer 
II Moro continued to fluctuate between his fear of Naples and 
his fear of France. When in March Charles VIII. asked that 
Galeazzo San Severino might be sent to France in order to give 
his advice on certain military matters, Lodovico declined to let 
him go. In May II Moro made a final attempt to strengthen 
himself against Naples independently of French aid, by sending 
Erasmo Brasca to Germany in order to seek the investiture of 
Milan at the hands of the Emperor. At the same time it was 
arranged that Beatrice should pay a complimentary visit to the 
Venetian Signoria In recognition of their recent alliance. Lodo- 
vico accompanied his wife as far as Ferrara, and he had already 
set out on his homeward journey when Belgioioso passed 
mysteriously through Milan with news that was to form the 
turning-point in II Moro's relations with France. The am- 
* Delaborde, op. cit. 


bassador had ridden post-haste from Senlis to tell his master 
that a treaty had just been concluded between Charles VIII. 
and Maximilian, in consequence of which the French King had 
determined to come to Italy without further delay. Lodovico 
could hesitate no longer. If he continued to oppose the Nea- 
politan expedition he would do so at the risk of alienating not 
only Charles VOL but Maximilian, Hence when the French 
envoy, Perron de Baschi, proposed that the ruler of Milan 
should act as the ** head and director " of the forthcoming ex- 
pedition, Lodovico raised no further objections. From hence- 
forth he threw himself unreservedly on the side of the 
French King. Lodovico's policy during the years 1492-93 is 
best expressed in his own letter to Ascanio, written in March, 
I494- 1 " It is not true that all this movement comes from me. 
It is the Christian King himself who took the initiative." 
After dwelling on the Treaty of Senlis, and the offers made to 
him by Charles VIII. through Belgioioso and Perron, he con- 
tinues : " At this time, I do not deny that, in view of the evil 
proceedings of the King of Naples towards the Holy Father, 
it did not displease me to find an occasion for coming to the 
aid of His Holiness. Hence I ceased to dissuade the most 
Christian King from his enterprise, I even approved of his 
resolution, and since then he has persisted in it with so much 
warmth that here he is to-day at Lyons." The French alliance 
had, in short, produced results which Lodovico had not antici- 
pated. He had hoped to find in Charles VIII. an ally "docile 
enough to serve his designs and powerful enough to ensure 
their success". 2 Charles, however, and not Lodovico had 
proved the dominant partner of the alliance, and the latter 
could only make the most of a situation into which he had 
been almost irresistibly drawn. 

Belgioioso's ride from Senlis greatly enhanced the import- 
ance of Beatrice's mission to Venice. To her now fell the task 
of sounding the Signoria as to the attitude of the Republic to- 
wards the expected invasion. Throughout the previous ne- 
gotiations Venice had played a waiting game. In her profound 

1 Roma, Archivio di State, Potenze Estere. C/, Delaborde, op. cit. 

2 Delaborde, p. 262. 


she cared nothing For keeping the foreigner out of 
Italy, so long as her own mainland possessions remained intact. 
If she had thrown herself whole-heartedly Into the alliance with 
Milan and the Papacy in April, Lodovico would have been In 
a position to discourage Charles VIIL's advances. Her refusal 
to do so, in the eyes of a modern writer, 1 throws the moral 
responsibility for the French Invasion largely upon the Vene- 
tian Republic Now, three months later, the replies of the 
Signoria to Beatrice were as vague as they were courteous. 
Venice had no wish to break with Milan, yet she had resolved 
to keep out of a contest which did not necessarily involve her 
interests. Alexander VI., however, with the papal territories 
and Rome itself on the line of march from France to Naples, 
could not afford to remain neutral He at once threw himself 
on the side of Naples, the reconciliation between himself and 
Ferrante being sealed by the marriage of Don Gioffre Borgia 
to Alfonso's Illegitimate daughter, Sancia, Thus, before the 
end of 1493 the lines of future action had already been deter- 
mined, Charles VI I L would come to Italy as the ally of 
Milan, to be actively opposed by Naples, the Papacy and 
Florence, while Venice would stand complacently aloof from 
the struggle which might prove to the ultimate advantage of 
the neutral power. 

Meanwhile Brasca's embassy to Germany had been carried 
out In a manner highly satisfactory to Lodovico. Besides the 
matter of the investiture, Brasca had instructions to propose a 
marriage alliance between Maximilian, King of the Romans, and 
Bianca Maria Sforza, Gian Galeazzo's sister. Bianca had hitherto 
been singularly unfortunate in her attempts at matrimony. In 
her infancy she had been betrothed to Philibert of Savoy, who 
had died before Bianca was old enough to marry him. Some 
years later it was arranged that she should marry John 
Corvinus, but on his failure to succeed his father as King of 
Hungary, the matter was allowed to drop. Now at last her 
star was In the ascendant, for Maximilian lent a favourable ear 
to both Brasca's proposals. The death of the old Emperor 

1 Segre, A., Lodovico Sforssa e la Refallica di Venezia dalV autumno 1494 
allaprimavera 1495. Arch. Stor, Lomb., 1902. 


Frederick III., In August, probably furthered II Moro's designs 
with regard to the investiture, as this was a point upon which 
Frederick had shown himself consistently obdurate. Maxi- 
milian, however, had not his father's tenacity of purpose, and 
he agreed readily enough to many Blanca with a dowry of 
300,000 ducats. To this sum was added an extra 100,000 
ducats to give, according to the grandiloquent language of the 
treaty, " more solemnity and lustre to the deed/ 1 or, in plain 
English, to form the price of the Imperial Investiture. On 3Oth 
November Blanca was married to the Imperial ambassadors in 
the Duomo of Milan, In the presence of French envoys whom 
Charles VIII. had sent to do honour to the occasion. A few 
days later she set out for Innsbruck, being accompanied as far 
as Como by her mother, Bona of Savoy 3 and other members 
of the Milanese Court. Maximilian proved a somewhat tardy 
bridegroom, for It was not until the following March that he 
and Blanca met. Towards II Moro, however, he acted with 
unusual good faith. An Imperial diploma, dated from Anversa 
on 5th September, 1494, confirmed Lodovko In all the dignities 
and privileges enjoyed by Gian Galeazzo VIscontI In virtue of 
the Investiture granted to him by the Emperor Wenzel In 1395. 
The reasons for preferring II Moro to his nephew were given 
at length In the preamble. Not only was Lodovlco the first- 
born son of Francesco Sforza after he became Duke, but Milan 
having lapsed to the Empire by the death of Filippo Maria 
VIscontI, Maximilian might bestow the fief on whom he would, 
and " you we have judged to be the only person worthy of 
being raised to this high rank ", 1 In spite of this vindication 
of Ms deed, Maximilian stipulated that the Investiture should 
for the present be kept secret, and Lodovico pocketed the 
diploma until the time should come for him to play it as the 
trump-card of his game. 

The beginning of the year 1494 witnessed the last desperate 
efforts on the part of the Italian Powers to avert the coming 
catastrophe. It was hoped that II Moro's alliance with Maxi- 
milian would make him less eager to further the cause of 
France. Hence both the Pope and Ferrante wrote to entreat 
1 Corio gives this and other documents relating to the investiture. 


LodlovicG not to act rashly, while the latter contemplated com- 
ing to Genoa in order to woo Sforza from the side of France 
by means of a personal interview. II Moro, true to his diplo- 
matic Ideal of always disguising his real Intentions from his 
enemies^ expressed much regret at his inability to turn the 
royal mind of Charles VIII. from its purpose, and explained 
that the ambitions of Orleans with regard to Milan rendered It 
impossible for him to quarrel with Franca At the same time 
he sent Galeazzo San Severino to France with instructions to 
push on the Neapolitan expedition by every means in Ms 
power. With King Ferrante's death in January, the last ob- 
stacle to the outbreak of war was removed. Whereas Ferrante 
disliked the papal alliance and had never wholly despaired of 
a reconciliation with Lodovico, Alfonso, who succeeded Ms 
father on the throne of Naples, was II Moro's bitter enemy and 
was hand and glove with Alexander VI. When the Pope 
wrote to beg Charles VIII, to desist from his invasion for the 
sake of the peace of Italy, the French King could reply that if 
Alexander VI. cared ought for the peace of Italy, he would 
not have invested the usurper Alfonso with the Kingdom of 
Naples. In March the French Court moved to Lyons, from 
whence Belgioioso sent numerous despatches to Milan, telling 
of the preparations for war and of the favourable reception of 
San Severino by Charles VII I. Thither, too, fled Giuliano 
della Rovere, who owing to the independent policy of Alex- 
ander VI. found in Rome no scope for his ambitions. If the 
current report may be believed, it was this warrior-Pope of 
the future who finally persuaded Charles VIII. to start for 
Italy. Thus, if to II Moro belongs the chief blame for 
bringing the French across the Alps, he had at least a 
companion in guilt. 

Lodovico had every reason to wish for the speedy arrival of 
the French if they were to come in time to save him from the 
vengeance of Alfonso. Archbishop Fregoso readily promised 
the King of Naples to effect a revolution in Genoa, and in June 
Federico of Aragon, Alfonso's brother, brought a fleet to co- 
operate with the Fregosi in their attempt on the city. Federico 
surprised the Milanese Government by an attack on Porto 


Venere, and when lie was repulsed by the bravery of the In- 
habitants he occupied Rapallo. In September however, the 
Duke of Orleans launched his French fleet from Genoa, and 
in conjunction with a land army from Milan he recaptured 
Rapallo, forcing Federico to retire on Leghorn. Yet It was 
commonly believed that If Orleans had delayed his coming 
Genoa would have been lost Meanwhile Alfonso's son, Fer- 
rantlnOj Duke of Calabria, had been sent at the head of a 
considerable army to Romagna with orders to stir up a rebellion 
against II Moro's Government In the name of Gian Galeazzo. 
Here again Lodovico was saved by the arrival of his French 
allies. On 23rd August the first French troops under Stuart 
d'Aubigny and La Tremouille marched through Parma to press 
on down the Via -^Emilia in company with some Milanese 
forces under Caiazzo. Ferrantlno made no show of resistance 
but gradually retired before the advancing enemy until he was 
once more In Neapolitan territory. At length, in September, 
Charles VIII. himself arrived at Asti. Lodovico and the Duke 
of Ferrara were already there to welcome the royal stranger, 
while Beatrice established herself at the neighbouring Castle of 
Annona with a suite of eighty ladles. Charles VIII. , In spite 
of his somewhat unprepossessing appearance, won many hearts 
by his modest, gentle manners and his simple kindliness. 
" Truly this King Is one of the best and most amiable princes - 
In the world," 1 Belgioioso had written from France. Now 
Beatrice was equally charmed by the courtesy with which he 
advanced cap In hand to meet her and her ladles, and then 
proceeded after the French fashion to kiss each one of them 
from the Duchess downwards. 2 Nevertheless, Lodovico watched 
his royal ally with considerable alarm. He would infinitely 
have preferred the French to proceed by the sea route from 
Naples to Genoa, but Charles Insisted on going by way of 
Loinbardy, While he was at Asti the King fell III of small- 
pox, and hence it was not until i^th October that he reached 
Pavia. Here he found the unfortunate Duke Gian Galeazzo 
seriously 111 and unable to leave his bed in order to welcome 

1 Cantu, Gli Sforza e Charles VIII. Arch. Stor. Lomb., 1888, 

2 Luzio-Renier, of. cit, Arch, Stor, Lorob., 1890, 


the King. Charles, however, mindful of the ties of 

which him to the son of Bona of Savoy, Insisted 

on the Invalid. Gian Galeazzo appears to have done 

more commend his wife and children to the King's 

Commlnes., who professes to have heard an account 
of the interview from Charles himself, explains that the fear of 
offending Lodovlco prevented their conversation from going 
beyond general topics. At this juncture, according to the most 
generally accepted version of the story, Isabella of Aragon 
threw herself on her knees before the French King Imploring 
him to spare her father and brother. Charles VIII. replied 
It was too late now for him to alter his purpose, and bade 
her pray rather for herself and her husband. A few days later 
Charles VIII. resumed his journey accompanied by LodovicOj 
who was overtaken at Piacenza by the news that his nephew- 
was dying. II Moro rushed back to Favia to find that Gian 
Galeazzo had breathed Ms last on the morning of 2ist October. 
Without a moment's delay he hurried on to Milan, and gather- 
ing some of the leading citizens within the Castello he proposed 
that Gian Galeazzo's infant son, Francesco, should be pro- 
claimed Duke in his father's stead. Thereupon the Treasurer, 
Antonio Landriano, at the instigation of Lodovico's supporters, 
If not of II Moro himself, rose to protest against the election of 
a child-Duke during these troublous times, and to propose that 
Lodovlco, who had for so long exercised the functions of Duke, 
should now assume the title. Baldassare Pusterla, Andrea 
Cagnola and other friends of Lodovlco warmly seconded Lan- 
driano's proposal, and none daring to contradict them, II Moro 
was proclaimed Duke without further delay. Lodovico only 
remained in Milan to provide for the funeral of the late 
Duke. When on 2yth October the body of Gian Galeazzo 
had been laid to rest In the Duomo, he departed to rejoin 
Charles VIIL, who was travelling by way of Pontrernoli to 

For all his eighteen years' reign, Gian Galeazzo Sforza re- 
mains but a shadowy figure in the history of Milan. Horses, 
dogs and the pleasures of the table appear to have been the chief 
delights of his feeble mind. He was occasionally rendered 


violent by drink ; l yet he showed signs of pathetic affection for 
the uncle who might well be considered his worst enemy. The 
night before his death he anxiously asked his attendant whether 
Lodovico loved him and was sorry to see him III Then, 
consoling himself with the thought that I! Moro would have 
come to see him if he had not been obliged to attend Charles 
VIII., the young Duke went peacefully to sleep, So died Gian 
Galeazzo. a It seemed an Inhuman thing," says Corlo, * 4 that 
before he had reached the age of twenty-five this Immaculate 
lamb should be taken from the number of the living." His 
death had occurred at such an exceedingly opportune moment 
that it appeared to many a clear case of poisoning. Theodore 
Gnaynler, the French doctor who accompanied Charles VI I L, 
declared that he had detected signs of poisoning In Gian 
Galeazzo when he saw him at Pavia. Contemporary chroniclers 
repeated and improved upon the taJe until the fact that 
Lodovico Sforza was his nephew's murderer became one of the 
commonplaces of history. Later historians have, however, 
shown themselves somewhat sceptical as to Lodovlco's guilt. 
Recent researches in the Milanese archives have revealed no 
vestige of proof that Gian Galeazzo's death was due to other 
than natural causes, 2 while a modern biographer of Charles 
VIII. 3 shows that the French King, at any rate, was convinced 
of Lodovico's Innocence. Gian Galeazzo had been sickly from 
childhood, and his health had shown visible signs of failure 
for some time before his death. During these months Isabella 
had watched over him with unceasing vigilance. She was 
ready to suspect Lodovico of everything and anything, and 
although she could not restore her husband to his rights she 
could at least guard him from poison. Moreover, although 
there is no reason to suppose that II Moro would have been 
restrained by any conscientious scruples, his lack of nerve and 

I Cf. Letter of May, 1492, quoted by Uzielli, Leonardo da Vinci e ire 
gentildonne Milanesi (1890) : " II Duca di Milano ha battuto sua mogtiere ". 
Uzielli assumes that this refers to Lodovico, but no contemporary would call 
him Duke of Milan at that date. * 

2 Cf. Magenta, C., Castillo di Pavia ; Porro, G., Arch. Stor. Lornb., 1882, 
p. 486 ; Luzio-Renier, Arch. Stor. Lomb., 1890, p. 397. 

3 Delaborde. 


Initiative, coupled with his natural distaste for violence, make 

him singularly unsuited for the role of murderer. It is, too, 
hard to see why, if Lodovico intended to poison his nephew, 
he had not done so long ago. As early as 1482 Sixtus IV. 
accused him of having planned Gian Galeazzo's death, and in 
1490 the Florentine ambassador sounded him on the subject 
to receive the somewhat ambiguous reply : a If I were capable 
of such a thing, I should be infamous in the eyes of the whole 
world ". Assassinations which have been expected for twelve 
years do not as a rale come off. Hence it seems, on the whole, 
probable that Gian Galeazzo was the victim not of poison but 
of consumption. There are those, however, who continue to 
lay the guilt at II Moro's door, 1 and who detect in the long 
delay, in the emphatic disavowals, and in the death of the 
young Duke when Lodovico had at length received the im- 
perial diploma drawn up in his own name, the hand of a past 
master in the art of intrigue. In view of the existing state of 
evidence they have at least a right to their opinion. 

It was expected that the first serious opposition to Charles 
VIII. would occur in the Lunigiana,, where the Florentine 
fortresses of Sarzana, Pietrasanta, Pisa and Leghorn were pre- 
pared to resist the advance of the French. Hence Piero dei 
Medici's sudden collapse and his cession of the four fortresses 
to Charles VIII. produced general consternation. To few 
was the episode more displeasing than to Lodovico. With the 
armies of Naples in full retreat, his object in bringing the 
French to Italy was already achieved, and the longer Charles 
was delayed on his journey the better it suited II Moro's pur- 
pose. Now, however, the French King had passed beyond his 
control, and the road to Rome lay open. After a vain attempt 
to gain Sarzana and Pietrasanta for himself, Lodovico returned 
in disgust to Milan to watch, with increasing apprehension, 
Charles VIII/s victorious march to Naples. The progress of 
the French armies, in the eyes of those who witnessed it, could 
only be ascribed to Divine intervention. Alexander VI. for- 
got his former boldness as the troops advanced on the papal 

1 Cf. Dina, A., Arch. Stor. Lomb., 1884, p. 716 ; Fossati, R, Arch. Stor T 
Loxnb., 1904, p. 162, 


city, and ? shutting himself in the Castle of S. Angelo, he 
left Rome at their mercy. King Alfonso abdicated before the 
French had entered Xeapolltan territory. Ferrantino, who 
had succeeded his father^ made some show of resistance only 
to escape to Ischia the day before Charles VIII. entered 
Naples. Even the weather smiled kindly on the French cause 5 
and the long march In midwinter was unhampered by frost or 
snow. When the news reached Milan that Charles had made 
himself master of Naples on 22nd February, II lloro's alarm 
was at Its height The ease with which the French claims on 
Naples had been vindicated might well turn Charles's thoughts 
towards the French claims on Milan. Lodovico turned in 
terror towards the Venetians to propose the formation of a 
League which should free Italy from the French. 

II Moro found himself by no means alone in his fear of 
France. The Pope had made humble submission to Charles 
VIIL, yet he was only awaiting an opportunity to repudiate 
his promises. Venice, for all her boasted neutrality, began to 
fear an alliance between France and the Turk, Maximilian 
regarded Charles VII L's high-handed interference in the affairs 
of Italy as an affront to the imperial dignity. Ferdinand of 
Spain, as the ruler of Sicily, could not view with equanimity 
the establishment of a European rival on the other side of the 
narrow Gulf of Messina. Hence the representatives of these 
five Powers opened negotiations at Venice for the preservation 
of their dominions. Commines, who was in Venice at the 
time, describes the meetings held under cover of night and 
the attempts on the part of the Doge and the Milanese 
ambassador to disguise from him their true significance, until 
at Iength 3 on Palm Sunday (roth April), the League was pro- 
claimed. The French King was not directly mentioned, yet 
none could doubt that the real object of this alliance was to 
drive him and his armies out of Italy. To Lodovico, however, 
Charles VIII. was many degrees less dangerous than his 
cousin of Orleans, who had remained in Asti throughout the 
winter, and whose assumption of the title of Duke of Milan 
bade defiance to the House of Sforza. At II Moro's instiga- 
tion, Maximilian called upon Orleans to renounce the obnosd- 


ous title on pain of forfeiting the Imperial fief of Asti, while 
Galeazzo San Severino went with an army to Asti in order to 
force the Duke to surrender. Yet Orleans was not to be 
frightened into the renunciation of his claims. His troops 
showed themselves more than a match for the Milanese. 
Early in June a successful sally on the part of the garrison at 
Asti resulted in the capture of Novara. It was reported that 
Orleans intended to press on to Milan, and that he could 
reckon ' on considerable support from the inhabitants of the 
Duchy. This bad news proved too much for II Moro's nerves. 
He shut himself up in the Castello of Milan, and actually con- 
templated flying from Italy without further effort to save him- 
self. Beatrice, however, was not prepared to submit so tamely. 
Aided by Landriano, she provided for the defence of the capi- 
tal, and contrived to restore some degree of confidence to the 
panic-stricken magistrates until the crisis was ended by the 
arrival of reinforcements from Venice. With their assistance 
Galeazzo San Severino was able to besiege the French in 
Novara and to hold the ambitions of Orleans momentarily in 

Meanwhile Charles VIII. had started on his return journey 
from Naples in the hope that he might escape to France with- 
out coming into contact with the armies of the League. The 
allies on their side prepared to encounter the French as they 
descended from the Apennines by the valley of the Taro. 
Stradiots, or Greek light horse in the service of Venice, Swiss 
and German infantry sent by Maximilian, the Milanese con- 
tingent under the Count of Caiazzo, and a numerous body of 
Venetians, comprised the motley array over which the Marquis 
of Mantua was placed in supreme command. On 6th July the 
two armies met at Fornovo, and a battle took place in which 
both sides claimed the victory. At the end of the day the 
forces of the League still held the road along the bank of the 
Taro to Parma, while the Stradiots had captured the French 
baggage. Yet the main French army had succeeded in cross- 
ing the river and in escaping across the mountains to Borgo 
San Donino. Current opinion attributed the failure of the allies 
to cut oif the French retreat to the deliberate policy of Lode- 


vico Sforza. When the aim of the French in crossing the 
Taro was discovered, the Marquis of Mantua led an attack on 
their rear, while he bade Caiazzo cross the stream lower down 
In order to turn the French advance guard. Calazzo's failure 
to do this was held to be In accordance with secret Instructions 
from his master, who had no wish to see the French entirely 
crushed. The Venetian forces were far superior in numbers 
to the Milanese, In Whose territory they fought. Hence, if 
Charles VIII. were decisively beaten, Milan would be at the 
mercy of her ancient rival, while the French King would never 
forgive the man who had first brought him to Italy and then 
caused his ruin. Such considerations are eminently character- 
istic of II Moro. If he had, indeed, told Caiazzo to hold off In 
order that the battle might be indecisive, he could congratulate 
himself upon the success of his machinations, " If others had 
fought as we did/' wrote the Marquis of Mantua to his wife the 
day after the battle, " the victory would have been complete. 
Not a single Frenchman would have escaped." 1 As It was, 
the French hurried on to Asti, thanking God that they had 
Issued from the contest with unimpaired honour, and only 
desirous of reaching home before fresh perils should overtake 

From Fornovo the armies of the League set out for Novara, 
upon which all efforts were now concentrated. On 5th August 
the Duke and Duchess of Milan were present at a grand review 
of the entire force, which Corlo estimates at some 45,000 men. 
The Marquis of Mantua was the hero of the hour, and the 
honours with which he was loaded enabled him so far to re- 
cover from his first disappointment as to have Mantegna's 
Madonna della Vittoria painted in commemoration of his 
"victory". With the camp of the League beneath the walls 
of Novara, the rigours of the siege were redoubled. Hence 
Orleans, finding himself on the brink of starvation, sent Im- 
ploring messages to Charles VIII. bidding him come to his 
help without delay. A party in the French camp, headed by 
Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, who entered the service of Charles 

1 1/uzio-Renier, Francesco Gonzaga alia battaglia di Fornovo. Arch. Stor. 
Ital., 1890. 


VI I L in Naples, was eager for fresh warfare. More moderate 
counsels ultimately prevailing, Commines was despatched with 
other of his compatriots to treat of peace with the League. 
The conference took place in the lodgings of the Duke of 
Milan at Carneriano where, according to Commines' descrip- 
tion, the representatives of the contracting parties sat facing 
each other on two long rows of chairs. Lodovico who, with 
Beatrice, was present at every meeting, found the proceedings 
hampered by the French habit of all talking at once, and his 
repeated cries of " No, one at a time, 3 ' appear to have been a 
feature of the conference. Negotiations seemed likely to drag 
on indefinitely had not the arrival of a large Swiss force In aid 
of the French made Lodovico anxious for peace at all costs. 
On loth October matters were brought to a conclusion by 
means of a separate treaty between France and Milan. Novara 
should be restored to Lodovico, who on his side agreed to send 
two ships In aid of the French garrison at Naples, to support 
Charles VIII. if he returned to Italy, and to recognise French 
suzerainty with regard to Genoa. The Castelletto of Genoa 
was handed over to the Duke of Ferrara for two years as a 
guarantee for II Moro's good behaviour. 

On the conclusion of the Peace of Vercelli the French 
King set out for France, and before the end of October he had 
reached Grenoble. Early In July Ferrantino had been wel- 
comed back to Naples, while the few fortresses still held by the 
French were hard pressed. Yet Lodovico showed no signs of 
equipping the promised ships. Commines, who had lingered 
in Italy In order to persuade Venice to agree to the recent 
treaty, did his best to hold the Duke of Milan to his word, and 
when the worthy Frenchman started on his journey home, he 
thought that he had achieved his purpose. All the way to 
Lyons lie was listening for the sound of hoofs which would 
foretell the arrival of II Moro's promised courier with the news 
that the ships had set sail for Naples, Yet so slippery a 
person as Lodovico was not easily caught. Commines found 
that he had been deceived by fair words. The ships did not 
sail, nor had II Moro ever intended that they should do so. The 
French flood had rolled back, and Lodovico, with every other 


Italian prince, was only occupied in repairing the havoc which 
It had wrought. 

Lodovico Sforza's position on the departure of the French 
seemed fully to justify his action In bringing Charles VIII. Into 
Italy. Owing to the presence of the French armies Lodovico 
had been able to assume the lordship of Milan on Glan 
Galeazzo's death without Interference on the part of his neigh- 
bours. Ferrantino of Naples, far from contemplating any act 
of vengeance, spent the months which followed Lodovico's coup 
d'etat In entreating his aid against the French. The weight of 
her misfortunes had crushed even Isabella's proud spirit. For 
the next few years she lived In complete retirement in the 
Castello of Milan, occupied only with her children, and ac- 
quiescent in the triumph of her rival. Moreover, thanks to the 
prominent part which he had played in the formation of the 
League of Venice, Lodovico could not be made the scapegoat 
for the iniquities of the French. He became rather the power 
to whom other Italian princes looked as best able to protect 
them from further Invasions. Above all, Lodovico had now 
received the crown of his triumphs In the shape of the imperial 
Investiture. On the death of Gian Galeazzo, II Moro had not 
ventured to reveal the existence of the imperial diploma with- 
out Maximilian's consent. He had, however, promptly sent an 
envoy to Germany to apologise for his assumption of the office 
of Duke before he had formally received the title, and to ask 
that ambassadors might be sent as soon as possible to perform 
the material act of investiture. Until this should take place 
Lodovico was careful to style himself Lodovicus Dux, which In 
default of further specification might be taken to refer to his 
old title of Duke of Bari. At length, on 26th May, 1495, the 
wlshed-for ceremony took place. The Imperial ambassadors 
solemnly read the act of investiture on the Piazza del Duomo 
and adorned Lodovico with the ducal Insignia, while Giasone 
del Maino delivered an oration In honour o the occasion. 
Now for the first time a Sforza Duke ruled Milan not merely 
by right of popular election, but by right of the title which, 
just one hundred years earlier, had been granted to Glan 
Galeazzo Viscontl. Lodovico might well aspire to the heights 


attained by his great predecessor, who had gone nearer than 
any other Italian prince to becoming the ruler of a united 

It so happened that a town which had formed part of Gian 
Galeazzo Visconti's inheritance came at this time within the 
range of Lodovico Sforza's ambitions. In spite of Charles 
VIII.'s promises^ the fortress of Pisa had not been restored to 
Florence on the departure of the French. Now, in January, 
1496, the French governor sold it to the Pisans for a sum of 
money which was furnished by Milan and Venice, while 
Milanese and Venetian forces helped to defend the liberties of 
Pisa against the Florentines. After the first few weeks Lodo- 
vico left the defence of Pisa mainly to the Venetians. Yet it 
is clear that he did so in the hope that when they grew tired 
of the war he would be able to grasp the prize. Meanwhile 
the French troops in Asti under Trivulzio were threatening 
Milan and a new invasion seemed imminent Hence Lodovico 
proposed to call Maximilian to Italy in order that he might 
champion the cause of the League. II Moro's devoted friend, 
Marchesino Stanga, was sent to Germany in the spring of 
1496, where he arranged that Maximilian should meet the 
Duke of Milan on the frontiers of his dominions to discuss a 
plan of operations. The interview took place in July, at the 
Abbey of Malz in the Valtellina, whither Lodovico was accom- 
panied by his wife and by the Venetian ambassador. Maxi- 
milian did his best to treat the whole affair as a pleasant 
hunting party rather than as a diplomatic negotiation. Never- 
theless a scheme was laid by which Maximilian should announce 
that he was coming to Italy in order to receive the imperial 
crown at the hands of the Pope. On his arrival he would take 
the opportunity to relieve Pisa, and to wrest Leghorn from 
Florence. The original proposal had been to close the chief 
passes of the Alps against the French by drawing the border 
States of Savoy and Montferrat to the side of the Empire. 
Trivulzio should then be driven from Asti, Florence should be 
forced to join the League, and Italy would present a united 
front against the invader. Venice, however, feared to place so 
much power in the hands of either Maximilian or Lodovico. 


Thus the scheme was reduced to an indirect attack on France 
through her Florentine allies. 

It has been well said that, of all Maximilian's schemes, "none 
were more fantastic and fruitless than the enterprise of Pisa )J . 1 
He came with few men and less money to embark upon a 
campaign in which he figured for all practical purposes as the 
condottiere of the League. So complete was his dependence 
upon his allies that Maximilian did not venture to reply to the 
Florentine ambassadors who met him. on his arrival in Italy. 
When they approached the thorny question of Florentine 
rights over Pisa, he referred them to the Duke of Milan, plead- 
ing press of business as his excuse. In October this imperial 
soldier of fortune entered Pisa. Thereupon the enthusiastic 
inhabitants tore down the statue of Charles VIIL, which they 
had erected two years earlier in the place of the Florentine 
marzoccO) to make room for the imperial eagles. Yet Maxi- 
milian was kept short of supplies by Venice, the weather was un- 
favourable and his troops were badly disciplined. When French 
vessels arrived for the defence of Leghorn he gave up the task 
as hopeless, and returned in disgust to Germany. Nor were 
Lodovico's ambitions with regard to Pisa furthered by Maxi- 
milian's expedition. Venice suspected, probably rightly, that 
Lodovico intended to obtain the investiture of Pisa from 
Maximilian. Having fathomed his designs, she proceeded to 
frustrate them by withholding the funds necessary to make j 
the enterprise effective. Lodovico, on his side, realised that 
he had more to fear from Venice than from Florence with 
regard to Pisa. From henceforth his championship of the 
Pisans ceased, and the year 1498 saw him aiding the Floren- 
tines to crush their nascent liberties. Yet the cordial relations 
which existed between Lodovico and his imperial guest en- 
hanced the reputation of Milan in the eyes of other Italian 
Powers. At the same time, Maximilian's visit gained for II 
Moro and his children a friend who, notwithstanding his reputa- 
tion for flightiness, stood by them in the hour of adversity. 
Attention has been drawn to Maximilian's failure to visit 

1 Stanley Leathes, Italy and Her Ima&ers (Cambridge Modern History, 
vol. I., ch. iv.). 


Milan either on his outward or return journey. Yet in view of 
the marked pleasure which he took in the society of the Duke 
and Duchess of Milan, it is hard to discover any political motive 
for his neglect, or to attribute it to a deeper cause than Maxi- 
milian's habitual dislike of State ceremonies. Doubtless the 
three weeks which he spent at Vigevano with Lodovico and 
Beatrice were far more to his taste than a formal visit to Milan. 
Here Maximilian charmed every one by his courteous manners, 
while the open-air life at Vigevano and the cultivated society 
of his hosts were wholly congenial to him. The King of the 
Romans showed great interest in Lodovico's two little boys, 
and asked that the elder of them might be given his own name. 
Henceforth Ercole became Massimiliano, while the second 
child, born in 1495, was known as Francesco. 

With Maximilian's expedition to Italy, Lodovico's triumphs 
reached their climax. So far everything had prospered with 
him, but now the tide of fortune turned, and from that time 
one blow after another fell on the unfortunate Duke until his 
ruin was complete. Even before Maximilian's departure the 
first trouble came with the death of Bianca Sforza, Lodovico's 
illegitimate daughter, who had only lately been married to 
Galeazzo San Severino. This beautiful girl had been betrothed 
to San Severino in 1489, and both she and her future husband 
had formed part of the Duke's intimate family circle. Beatrice 
had shown very real affection towards her step-daughter, and 
she now mourned for her as for her own child. Barely six 
weeks later the Court of Milan was deprived of a still brighter 
ornament owing to the death of Beatrice herself in giving birth 
to a still-born son. " I would rather have died myself than 
lose the dearest thing that I had in this world," wrote Lodo- 
vico to Francesco Gonzaga, 1 and the whole Court shared in his 
overwhelming sorrow. When Beatrice died, wrote a con- 
temporary, "every thing went into ruins, and the Court was 
changed from a happy paradise into a gloomy hell". 2 The 
young Duchess was buried in S. Maria delle Grazie. Hence- 
forth the 4ecoration of this church, with the adjoining convent, 

1 Luzio-Renier, Arch. Stor. Lomb,, 1:890, 
?Remer, Arch. Stor. Lomb., i$86 7 


Cerfosa of Pavia 


became Lodovico's chief Interest Cristoforo Solarf was 
charged with the execution of Beatrice's tomb, crowned with 
the recumbent figures of herself and her husband who hoped 
one day to He at her side. New altars were erected In honour 
of their patron saints S. Louis and S. Beatrice. Hard by, in 
the Convent Refectory, Leonardo turned from his all but com- 
pleted " Last Supper " to paint the figures of the Duke and 
Duchess on the opposite wall. Not content with this, Lodo- 
vico caused a new city gate to be opened, bearing the name of 
Porta Beatrice, while his wife's Initials figured with his own on 
all the chief public buildings. Milan would know Beatrice no 
more, yet the very walls and stones of the city should preserve 
the memory of her gracious presence. 

With all his love for Beatrice, Lodovico was no model hus- 
band. In the sphere of private morals he shared the laxity of 
his age and race. The long delay over Beatrice's wedding, 
which had for a time made her friends despair of the marriage 
ever taking place, had been caused by II Moro's affection for 
Cecilia Gallerani. This beautiful and accomplished lady held 
for several years the position at the Court of Milan which would 
naturally belong to Lodovico's wife. Leonardo painted her 
portrait, the Court poets sang her praises, and II Moro treated 
her with every mark of honour. Beatrice, however, was not of 
the temperament to allow the existence of a rival and she per- 
suaded her husband to see no more of Cecilia. In July, 1491, 
the lady was married to Count Bergamlni of Cremona, although 
not before she had given birth to a son, whom II Mofo openly 
recognised as his own. Cecilia Gallerani had not been the first 
of Lodovico's mistresses, nor did she prove the last The year 
before his wife's death II Moro found a fresh object for his 
affections in the person ,of Lucrezia Crivelli, one of Beatrice's 
maids of honour. In the midst of his mourning for Beatrice, 
Lodovico remembered the claims of this mistress. A document 
of July, 1497, records a grant of lands to Lucrezia Crivelli as a 
provision for her new-born son, Gian Paolo. Yet, notwithstand- 
ing these occasional lapses, it is no sentimental exaggeration to 
say that round Beatrice d'Este centred the romance of Lodo- 
vico's life, II Moro's love for his girl-wife was of a deeper 


and more lasting nature than passion, and in the ascendancy 
which she held over her husband's complex personality Beatrice 
knew no rival. On the eve of Lodovico's flight to Germany 
before the advancing armies of France, it was to Beatrice that 
his thoughts turned. It was by her grave in S. Maria delle 
Grazie that his last hours in Milan were spent. 

II Moro had always been an affectionate and even an anxious 
father. A letter written by a member of the Court, when 
Massimiliano was a year old, relates how the little prince was 
" slightly indisposed yesterday and to-day, for no other cause 
than the teeth which he is cutting and which give him some 
pain. Yet, even though the evil is small, Signor Lodovico 
is much distressed and displeased about it more so than is 
necessary." l After Beatrice's death, Lodovico's solicitude was 
redoubled. In June, 1498, II Moro turned from the intricate 
diplomacy which occupied him throughout the year to appoint 
"Messer Aluysio Trivulzio and Messer Princivale Visconti" 
Massimiliano's guardians, and to draw up an elaborate paper of 
instructions for their guidance. Hitherto the children had been 
under the charge of Camilla Sforza, the widow of Costanzo, 
Lord of Pesaro. Now that Massimiliano was promoted to male 
guardians, Camilla, probably fearing encroachments upon her 
province, also applied for a written list of duties, in order that 
she might know better " how to carry out Your Excellency's 
wishes " 2 . In view of the vast problems pressing upon the 
ruler of Milan, there is something strangely pathetic in the mass 
of letters which are to be found in the documents of the day, 
reporting upon the well-being of his motherless children. 8 
" The Count of Pavia and the Duke of Bari continue in good 
health." " Count Massimiliano is well and your son Francesco 
likewise." So the reports run on, varied by prattling letters 
from the children themselves, telling of their pleasures and 
occupations, making small requests and expressing many regrets 
at their father's absence. To judge from the correspondence 

1 Milan, Archivio di Stato, Potenzc Sovrane, Massimiliano, Vicende personal*. 

3 Cod. cit'. Also, Lodivoco II Moro, Vicende personate; Francesco /!,, 
ende personal^ 


relating to his children, Lodovico might have had no cares and 
no ambitions save those that centred round the two little boys. 
Much has been said and written of Lodovico's care for the 
material improvement of his dominions. Yet, although there is ' 
no doubt as to II Moro's interest in economic development, it is 
a subject upon which accurate information is hard to obtain. One 
point, however, stands out clearly. That is the extraordinarily 
modern and even scientific spirit in which II Moro approached 
all such questions. An interesting document has been preserved 
in the Milanese Archives, 1 in which are set forth the various 
provisions which Lodovico made for the benefit of his subjects 
at the opening of the reign. Besides the usual remission of 
penalties with which each Duke marked his accession, Lodovico 
instituted a detailed inquiry into all abuses calculated to vex 
the inhabitants of the Duchy, Two leading citizens were de- 
puted to inquire into the frauds and extortions connected with 
the salt monopoly. Two more were charged with the scrutiny 
of those city officials known as the Judges of the Streets and of 
Victuals, with a view to preventing unlawful oppression on their 
part. All subjects from whom the tax-gatherers had collected 
more than their due were invited to lay their complaints before 
appointed representatives in each city. More than this, Mar- 
chesino Stanga and two colleagues were formed into a kind of 
commission " to discover with all diligence the best expedients 
for producing a greater abundance of food in the country, more 
especially of grain ". In thus seeking to increase the agricultural 
products of the Duchy, Lodovico laid his finger upon the chief 
source of wealth possessed by the ruler of Milan, namely, the 
great fertility of his dominions. The inquiry which he insti- 
tuted showed his determination to turn the hitherto undeveloped 
resources of the country to some account Side by side with 
this commission went II Moro's own agricultural experiments 
upon his estates near Vigevano. Here Lodovico built the villa 
known as La Sforzesca^ while hard by rose the model farm of 

1 Archivlo di Stato, Potenze Sovranc, Lodovico II Moro, Vicende personali : 
"Summario de le provisione ordinate per lo Illwo et Exmo Lodovico Maria 
Sforza Vesconti Duca de Milano in questa nova assumptione sua al Ducato, 
per commodita et beneficio de li subditi soi ". 


La Pecorara, or La Grange as the French called It. Besides 
planting vineyards and establishing sheep farms, Lodovlco In- 
troduced the cultivation of the mulberry, bringing men who had 
gained experience among the mulberry-trees of Verona and 
Vicenza to carry out his schemes. The French chronicler, Robert 
Gagum, gives the fullest description of the ducal farm. He 
waxes eloquent over " the marvellous number of beasts " that 
he saw there, and over the admirable system on which the farm 
was worked. Through the meadow land in which it stood 
ran " thirty-three streams of fair living water ". Homes for the 
foremen of each department were provided in the central square 
of the farm, while behind lay a block of dwellings for the 
labourers and their families. Hay, milk, cheese, butter were 
all carefully weighed, and the farm was organised upon strictly 
scientific principles. Lodovico's experiments attracted the 
attention of Leonardo da Vinci, whose note-books contain several 
references to details which struck him during a visit to Vigevano. 
He observed the practice of burying the vines during the winter 
months, the original construction of the mills, and, above all, 
the admirable system of irrigation, which formed the chief glory 
of the Vigevano estates. By means of confiscation and pur- 
chase Lodovico gained possession of the greater part of the 
Lomellina. He then set himself to fertilise the hitherto dry 
and barren district by means of canals. Chief of these was the 
Naviglio Sforzesco, which brought the waters of the Ticino 
to the Lomellina, thus rendering a large tract of waste land 
productive. It appears that the Martesana Canal, which brought 
the waters of the Adda to Milan, had been allowed to fall into 
bad repair at this period. Now Lodovlco instituted an inquiry 
into the working of the canal In order to remedy the abuses 
which rendered it unnavigable. From henceforth taking water 
from the canal by unauthorised channels was prohibited. It 
was decreed that all mills must be of a certain size, that the 
flow of the stream must not be checked with refuse, and that 
wharves must be cleaned twice a year. In 1498 Leonardo was 
made chief engineer of the Duchy, with the care of Its rivers 
and waterways. Thanks to his labours, improvements were 
introduced both In the Martesana Canal and in the irrigation 


of the Lomellina. Tradition further ascribes to him the con- 
nection of the Martesana with the old Naviglio Grande flowing 
from the Ticino. 

At different periods of her history Milan suffered from 
terrible outbreaks of plague. The idea of a special hospital to 
meet cases of epidemic had originated under the Ambrosian 
Republic. It remained, however, to Lodovico and Ascanio 
Sforza to carry the scheme into execution by the foundation of 
the Lazzaretto in 1488. Not content with founding a hospital, 
II Moro turned to Leonardo for suggestions as to some per- 
manent remedy against the ravages of disease. Thereupon 
Leonardo produced an elaborate scheme for the rational re- 
construction of the cities of Lombardy, I which would scatter 
the great mass of people, crowded " like goats one on the top 
of another/ 1 and so remove a continual cause of disease and 
death. Many of Leonardo's ideas with regard to building and 
sanitation are those which are commonly regarded as the exclu- 
sive property of the present century. His insistence upon light, 
air, open spaces and wide streets might come from the modern 
social reformer, while his proposals for the regulation of traffic 
are in advance of what has been achieved to-day. There would 
be two kinds of streets in Leonardo's ideal city. Carts and 
heavy vehicles would be confined to the lower roads, upon a 
level with the basements of the houses, while elegant hanging 
streets would be reserved for pedestrians and light traffic. 
Leonardo's schemes remained for the most part in his note- 
books. Yet the improvements which Lodovico carried out in 
the cities of his dominions bear the mark of his influence. 
Streets were widened and squares were enlarged both in Milan 
and in Pavia, while at Vigevano improvements were executed 
upon a large scale. With its numerous new buildings, its 
handsome square and its freshly paved streets, it seemed to the 
historian Cagnola " not Vigevano, but a new city ". 

Improvements which add to the burden of the ratepayer do 
not bring popularity to their originator, however great may be 
their value. Lodovico's reforms proved no exception to the 
general rule. Moreover, his irrigation works in the Lomellina 

1 Cf. Solmi, E., Leonardo. Florence, 1900. 


were carried through with a high hand. Private rights were 
disregarded, and lands were confiscated with scant regard for 
justice, In order that the system might be made complete. In 
the outcry against these acts of tyranny, the inestimable boon 
which Lodovico's waterways had conferred on the Lomellina 
was forgotten, and his work there was added to the list of 
grievances which his subjects laid up against him. As has 
been already noticed, the government of Milan under Lodovico 
advanced by leaps and bounds towards autocracy. In former 
years the administration of the revenues of Milan remained in 
the hands of the municipality, and an annual contribution was 
made from them to the Ducal Camera. A petition of the 
citizens to Louis XIL In 1502, for a yearly revenue with which 
to provide for the public needs, points to a change of system, 
whereby the Duke had gained entire control over the finances 
of the city. Doubtless Lodovico considered that he could 
spend the money to greater advantage than the citizens them- 
selves, but this was a distinction which the Milanese could 
not be expected to appreciate. II Moro's refusal to trust his 
subjects must be reckoned among the causes which made him 
forfeit their confidence. Whether or no Gian Galeazzo's death 
should be laid at II Moro's door, It certainly undermined his 
position in Milan. The chronicler, Ambrogio da Paullo, says 
that at the time of the imperial Investiture, there was no one 
who cried Duca and More save the Court favourites. This 
same writer attributes Lodovico's subsequent misfortunes to the 
employment of "foreigners" in the Government, instead of 
"the old and established men of Milan," to the heavy loans 
which he exacted from all classes, and to the death of the young 
Duke. Thus, little by little, the breach between prince and 
people widened until Lodovico became morbidly conscious of 
his unpopularity. His anxiety was increased by the knowledge 
that he could not rely upon the strength of an army for the 
maintenance of his authority. The French Invasion, if It had 
done nothing else, had emphasised the military weakness of 
the Italian States, which possessed no native Infantry to sup- 
plement the mercenary forces, weakened by long years of com- 
parative peace. Hence the despotism rested ultimately upon 




the will of the people. Once this was alienated the ruler of 
Milan stood at the mercy of a foreign opponent. Thus out- 
ward circumstances combined with Lodovico's natural timidity 
to cast a gloom of suspicion over the Court, such as recalled the 
last years of Filippo Maria Visconti. The first hint of a re- 
volution, as at the time of the occupation of Novara by the 
Duke of Orleans, found Lodovico ready to abandon himself to 
his fate. It needed no prophet to foresee that if an invading 
army should enter Milanese territory the Duke would not stay 
to meet it. 



ON 7th April, 1498, died Charles VIII. Louis, Duke of 
Orleans thereupon succeeded him on the throne of 
France, assuming at the same time the titles of King of the 
Two Sicilies and Duke of Milan. Aided by a map of Lombardy 
and by the information which Trivuizio could furnish, the new 
monarch at once began to lay his plans for a fresh Italian 
campaign, declaring that he would rather possess the Duchy of 
Milan for a single year than spend a whole life-time without it. 
The long-expected blow had fallen, and Lodovico Sforza must 
prepare to defend his dominions against the power of France. 

There were many reasons which distinguished Lodovico 
II Moro as the special object of Louis XII.'s enmity. From the 
days of the War of Ferrara, Louis of Orleans had asserted his 
claims to Milan, as the grandson of Valentina Visconti, whenever 
the opportunity arose. His failure in 1495 had but whetted 
his ambitions, and during the years between his return from 
Italy and his accession, he had encouraged the exiled Guelphs 
of Lombardy to seek his protection and support. Now as the 
successor to Charles VIII., Louis must avenge the insult to the 
French Crown contained in II Moro's repudiation of the Treaty 
of Vercelli, while the high position which Lodovico held among 
the princes of Italy marked him out as the chief obstacle to the 
predominance of France. Even beyond the borders of Italy 
France had suffered from Lodovico's opposing influence. The 
Duke of Milan perpetually urged Maximilian to keep the 
French King out of Italy by means of an attack on Burgundy. 
In 1498 a campaign actually took place, financed for the most 



part by Sforza. The campaign itself was of the slightest im- 
portance, yet the mere fact that Lodovico could thus procure 
war between France and the Empire formed a powerful reason 
for his undoing. A raid on the part of Trivulzio from Asti in 
June, 1498, removed all doubt as to Louis XII.'s intentions. 
From that time the rulers of France and of Milan were engaged 
in a fierce diplomatic contest which was of perhaps even 
greater importance than the war which followed it. 1 

Lodovico's comparative failure in the diplomatic struggle 
was certainly not due to lack of effort His agents found their 
way to all the chief Courts of Europe, including that of Henry 
VII., while they even penetrated to the Porte in the hope that 
an alliance with the Turk would prove an effective measure 
against Venice. Nevertheless, it seemed as if everything that 
the once prosperous Moro touched were doomed to failure. 
The result of all his embassies left him with only two allies 
outside Italy, the Sultan Bajazet and Maximilian. Friendship 
with the Turk certainly increased Lodovico's unpopularity 
among the Christian Powers, while the alliance with Maximilian 
was largely neutralised by Philip of Burgundy's treaty with 
Louis XII. and by the war between the Empire and the Swiss. 
It had seemed at first as if Lodovico would gain the support 
of the Swiss Cantons. Thus the treaty by which they placed 
themselves at the service of France, in return for protection and 
pensions, formed a serious blow to Milan. For this loss 
Lodovico was himself largely responsible. The Cantons were 
bound by their commerce to the side of Milan, and it was only 
when Lodovico, at Maximilian's request, closed the passes of 
the Alps to the Swiss during their war with the Empire that 
they decided to lend their aid to France. 

In view of the ceaseless negotiations between Milan and the 
other Italian States, the little effective support which Lodovico 
obtained is a poor testimony to the diplomacy which he valued 
so highly. The Western States of Savoy, Montferrat and 
Saluzzo were bound by long-standing ties to France. Although 
they did not wholly commit themselves until Lodovico had 

1 C/. Pelissier, L. G., Louis XII. et Lodovic Sforza, 1498-1500 (&ole 
fran9aise cT Athene et de Rome, 1896), for a full account of these negotiations. 


wasted much time and money In the vain attempt to secure at 
least their neutrality, by the spring of 1499 ^ey had declared 
for Louis XII. Hence the French gained free passage through 
Savoyard territory with promises of guides and provisions at a 
low tariff, privileges of no small importance to the invader of 
Lombardy. If Lodovico must reckon the Western States 
among his enemies, he might at any rate expect to find 
friends on the opposite frontiers of his dominions in the rulers 
of Mantua and Ferrara. Yet intimate as were the relations 
between Ercole d'Este and his son-in-law, the connection 
between France and Ferrara was equally close. Hence Ercole 
did his best to preserve a strict neutrality, offering himself as a 
mediator between Lodovico and Louis XII., but refusing to 
fight for either of them. All that Lodovico obtained from 
Ferrara was the loan of some artillery and the enthusiastic 
support of the young Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, Archbishop of 
Milan, who, regardless of his father's remonstrances that li the 
sole arms of a priest should be prayers," 1 insisted on fighting 
under the Sforza banners. In spite of his wife's \varm champion- 
ship of the cause of Milan, the Marquis of Mantua was if any- 
thing worse than an open enemy. His reputation as a captain 
made him in great request. Hence he dallied with all parties 
in turn. Having at length secured high terms for himself from 
Lodovico and Maximilian, he occupied the intervening time 
with trumped-up complaints as to his salary until the arrival of 
the French in Milan enabled him to decide for the stronger 

The real strength of Louis XII. in Italy lay, however, in his 
alliance with Venice and the Papacy. With regard to Venice, 
Lodovico's mistake consisted less in his failure to detach the 
Republic from the French alliance than in his refusal to believe 
that such an alliance could be final, II Moro's desertion of 
Venice over the Peace of Vercelli and the mutual jealousy and 
suspicion which the two powers had shown in the affairs of 
Pisa, were but the outward signs of deep-seated rivalry. Milan 
and Venice had alone survived Charles VIII/s invasion with un- 
impaired prestige. Thus the antagonism between these ancient 
1 Letter of August, 1499, Pelissier, op. cit*, vol. i,, p. 196. 


rivals for the possession of Lombardy became the predominant 
factor In Italian politics. From the moment of Louis XIUs 
accession the Signoria had spared no pains to Ingratiate them- 
selves with the new monarch. It was only the French King's 
fear that Venice might prove an expensive ally which deferred 
the conclusion of a league between them until February, 1499. 
Yet even after the publication of the alliance, Lodovlco con- 
tinued to alternately threaten and fawn upon the Signoria until 
the dismissal of the Milanese ambassador In August formed the 
prelude to the occupation of the Ghiarad'adda by the Venetian 
forces. In the spring of 1498 Alexander VI. was still the 
grateful ally of the House of Sforza and the enemy of the 
foreign Power which had threatened to depose him. The re- 
sponsibility for his change of front rests with Caesar Borgia, 
whose matrimonial ambitions formed the guiding principle of 
papal policy. Caesar had first aspired to the hand of Carlotta 
of Naples, and Sforza had undertaken to act as mediatory. 
Hence, when King Federico boldly refused to sacrifice his 
daughter to the designs of the ex-Cardinal, the relations be- 
tween Milan and the Papacy grew cooler. Louis XII/s request 
for a divorce, which would enable him to marry Anne of Brit- 
tany, offered fresh scope for Borgia, who now turned his thoughts 
towards a French marriage. The divorce was granted, and 
Louis XIL, In return, created Caesar Borgia Duke of Valen- 
tinois. As early as August, 1498, Ascanio Sforza reported from 
Rome : t The Pope Is quite French since the Most Christian 
King has offered a Duchy to his son 3 '. 1 Thereupon Caesar left 
for France only to return to Italy with the Invading army of 
Louis XII. Of the other Italian Powers, Florence, whose sole 
thought was how best to ensure the recovery of Pisa, hesitated 
so long between France and Milan that she offended Louis 
XIL without helping Sforza. Thus Lodovico's only whole- 
hearted allies were Naples, Bologna and Forli, all of whom 
were In almost as great danger as II Moro himself. Federico of 
Naples knew that if Milan fell his own kingdom would be 
attacked next. Giovanni Bentivoglio and Caterina Sforza were 
threatened by Caesar Borgia's designs on Romagna, It is char- 
1 P^Hssier, of. cit. r $io\, i, 


acteristic, botli of the dawdling Italian methods and of II Moro's 
persistent ill-luck, that even the handful of forces which these 
three States could furnish arrived too late to share in the first 

In his military preparations for the coming struggle, Lodo- 
vico proved no match for the energy and promptitude of Louis 
XII. The Duke of Milan seemed unable to grasp the possibil- 
ity of the French army arriving punctually and all his prepara- 
tions were begun too late. His methods can best be estimated 
by the reasons which he gave for postponing certain improve- 
ments in the fortifications of Novara. These repairs," II Moro 
wrote in April, 1499, "not being perhaps of immediate utility, 
and the materials which are used rapidly deteriorating, it would 
be better to suspend them and to begin again at the last 
moment" l When at length preparations began in good earnest, 
II Moro showed both activity and wisdom, but the amount 
which was accomplished in a short time blinded him as to the 
true state of affairs. During the summer of 1499 the Duke of 
Milan was collecting money "furiously". The hated inquinto was 
added to the taxes. One-half of the annual revenue was asked 
from all ecclesiastical benefices, while lay fiefs were made to yield 
a year's income in its entirety. Ascanio Sforza set a good 
example of liberality by placing some 200,000 ducats at his 
brother's disposal, and the Mantuan ambassador reported that 
the Duke would soon have c< a mint of money ". Yet these 
extraordinary measures could not restore efficiency to a financial 
system which had for long been crippled by the expenses of 
past campaigns and of an extravagant Court. Hence Lodo- 
vico's arrangements suffered from a general shortness of funds, 
which quickly made itself felt among the condotturi> and which 
accounts for their reluctance to enter Milanese service. Above 
all, II Moro experienced the want of able advisers. Galeazzo 
San Severino, who was entrusted with supreme control of the 
forces, was a brilliant soldier but a bad general. The favour 
which the Duke showed towards him was a constant source of 
jealousy to the other captains, notably to his own brothers. 
Hence the armies of Milan were inspired by no feeling of 

* P^Hssier, of. fit., vol. i, 


solidarity and common enthusiasm, while Lodovlco could not 
but be aware that many of his subjects secretly sided with the 
enemy. An oath of loyalty was exacted from the principal 
families of the subject-towns, and pains were taken to remove 
suspected persons. Nevertheless, a contemporary chronicler de- 
clares that " the greater part of the Milanese desired the coming 
of the King, and they treated secretly with Signor Gian Gia- 
como (Trivulzio) as to the means whereby II Moro could be 
destroyed w . 1 Disaffection and treachery loomed dark on the 
horizon, making Lodovico's assertion to the Ferrarese ambassa- 
dor that he was " strong in men, money and fortresses " 2 appear 
but an empty boast. 

By the beginning of August the French army, which had 
for some time been collecting round Asti, mustered nearly 
30,000 men. The supreme command was entrusted to Trivulzio 
in view of his knowledge of the country. On I3th August he 
began hostilities by an attack on Rocca d'Arazzo in the 
Tanaro valley. Lodovico's plan of campaign was to occupy 
tk e French over long sieges until he had collected an army 
strong enough to beat them in the open field. Hence Galeazzo 
San Severino and the bulk of the Milanese troops gathered at 
Alessandria, which was to form the first point of resistance. 
Meanwhile the French pressed on with astonishing rapidity. 
One by one the fortresses of the Western Milanese, Annona, 
Tortona, Valenza, fell into their hands until, by 25th August, 
they were before Alessandria, San Severino was apparently 
prepared to make a brave resistance. Hence the general con- 
sternation when three nights later, accompanied by Ermes 
Sforza and other of the chief captains, he slipped out of 
Alessandria and fled towards Pavia. The Milanese forces, left 
leaderless at the mercy of the French, either fled or were taken 
prisoner. Alessandria at once capitulated and the victorious 
army continued its march eastward. Unaccountable as San 
Severino's flight seems to-day, there is no reason to suppose 
that he was acting treacherously. The danger of finding the 
route to Pavia cut off by the French was imminent, and Sam 

1 Ambroglo da Paullo, Cron<zca Milanese, 1476-1515, 
? Pglissier, op. rit., vol. i, 


Severino had for some days urged the advantage of retiring to 
this second point of vantage before it was too late. It is even 
likely that he acted according to II Moro's instructions. Once 
in Pavia he doubtless intended to collect his scattered army 
and to hold at all costs the route to Milan. His schemes were 
dashed to the ground by the refusal of Pavia to open her gates 
to the Milanese forces. Panic and disloyalty combined to 
dictate the message that " the place of soldiers is in the open 
field and not in towns ".* With this repulse the war was virtually 
at an end. 

Meanwhile confusion reigned in Milan. "Mistakes are 
now recognised and acknowledged/' wrote the Ferrarese am- 
bassador. " One is silent about them in order not to increase the 
sorrows of a man already stricken, but the situation could not 
well be worse." 2 Lodovico was, indeed, wholly overcome by 
his misfortunes. Feverish activity alternated with the blackest 
despair. At one moment he spoke of handing over Milan to 
the Empire, at the next he declared that he would place him- 
self at the head of his troops in order that he might at least 
die as Duke of Milan. The unnerved condition of their Duke 
quickly communicated itself to the citizens, adding greatly to 
the general ferment. Lodovico's panic-stricken appeals for 
aid and advice to the College of Jurisprudence and to the chief 
gilds deprived the citizens of any feeling of confidence in 
their leader, while they increased the impression that it was 
necessary for Milan to safeguard her own interests. With 
the burdens of war pressing heavily on all classes abuse of 
Lodovico grew daily, and cries of " Marco " and "Trivulzio" 
began to be heard in the streets. The climax came on 3oth 
August when Antonio Landtiano, the Treasurer, was attacked 
and murdered by the mob, headed by one Simone Rigoni. 
Landriano had for long been intimate with Lodovico, and he 
had lately encouraged him to reject Louis XII.'s proposals, that 
Sforza should keep Milan for life in return for an annual tribute. 
Hence he was marked out for the victim of the storm of popular 
resentment which had arisen against the House of Sforza. II 
Moro saw that his only chance of safety lay in flight. The 

1 P<Sli$sier, op. cit., vol. ii, 3 Op. cit. 


towns of his own dominions had proved unavailing as points 
of resistance to the French. Hence, still adhering to his original 
plan, Lodovico would retire with his sons to the mountains of 
Tyrol until he had collected sufficient forces to offer fresh 
resistance to the enemy. The Castello of Milan, well stocked 
with ammunition and supplies, would hold the French in check. 
Later, when the occasion arose, it would facilitate the Duke's 
return to his dominions. Final preparations were quickly 
carried through. Bernardino da Corte promised with every 
assurance of loyalty to hold the Castello for at least a month, 
and an elaborate system of signals was arranged by means of 
which he could communicate his wants to the outside world. 
The ducal treasure was packed on mules to be conveyed to 
Germany. The two little boys, Massimiliano and Francesco, 
started on ahead under the charge of their uncle, Ascanio, and of 
their governess, Camilla Sforza. At length on 2nd September 
II Moro himself rode out of Milan, and accompanied by a little 
band of followers made his way to Como. Meanwhile Tri- 
vulzio had written to his cousin Erasmo that he would dine 
with him in Milan on the following day. On the very even- 
ing of Lodovico's departure he entered the city. Milan, with- 
out more ado, capitulated to the French. 

Milan had indeed been won " with spurs of wood/' and the 
speedy occupation of the capital produced an impression as to the 
power of the invader which prevented further resistance through- 
out the Duchy. " No defence avails against the might of the 
, French," San Severino was reported to have said on his return 
from Alessandria. <c If they wished to storm the gloomy city of 
Hades in quest of Proserpine and Eurydice, neither Cerberus nor 
Pluto would venture to resist them." a Genoa, Piacenza, Parma, 
one after the other, made a voluntary submission to Louis XI L, 
who by the end of October had undisputed possession of the 
Duchy. Cremona and the Ghiarad'adda had, however, been 
occupied by the Venetians as their share of the spoils. Al- 
though the inhabitants, in their anxiety to remain Milanese, 
offered themselves to the French King, his promises to Venice 
forced him to turn a deaf ear to their entreaties. Meanwhile 

1 Chroniques de Jean d'Auton, vol. i. 


Trivulzlo concentrated all his efforts on the siege of the Castello 
of Milan. Yet the storming had hardly begun before his at- 
tempts to bribe the garrison Into surrender succeeded beyond 
all expectation. On I3th September Bernardino da Corte 
signed a treaty by which he agreed to yield the Castello in 
twelve days, if no help came In the meantime, In return for a 
share of the treasures placed under his charge and an annual 
revenue of some 2,000 ducats. 1 All the captains and officials of 
the Castello, with one exception, 2 followed Da Corte's example, 
receiving pensions and privileges as the price of their treachery. 
Without even allowing the twelve days to elapse, Da Corte 
quitted the Castello on i/th September, while Trivulzio 
entered to install himself in Lodovlco's own apartments. Two 
days later came a letter from II Moro to Da Corte bidding 
"his dearest brother" take courage for he should soon be 
relieved. 3 The letter fell into Trivulzio's hands, but with 
characteristic irony he took care that It should reach its proper 
destination. Such barefaced treachery earned for Da Corte 
the contempt of French and Italians alike. Louis XII. himself, 
when he visited the Castello " and saw how fine and strong it 
was and how well supplied with artillery, marvelled greatly and 
laid much blame upon that new Judas, Bernardino da Corte, 
saying that he should never have surrendered so well-constructed 
a fortress 33 . 4 The ex-Castellan hardly ventured to show his 
face in Milan, and he must needs retire to Asti where he spent 
the rest of his days in ignoble obscurity. On 6th October 
Louis XII. made his triumphal entry Into Milan by the Porta 
Ticinese. His baldacchino was borne by the chief Milanese 
doctors, while the Dukes of Savoy and Ferrara, the Marquises 
of Mantua, Saluzzo and Montferrat rode in his train amid a 
crowd of Frenchmen and his now devoted ally, Caesar Borgia. 
Through streets decorated with fleur-de-lys the King made his 
way to the Duomo, where representatives of the city gates were 
gathered under their various standards to do him honour. 
Milan rejoiced in the presence of her new ruler for the next 

1 C/. Beltratni, L,, Castello di Milano, p. 525. 

2 Domenego da Rizo, who fled to Germany. 

3 Pelissier, vol. ii. 4 Paullo, A. da, op. cit. 


month. During that time he did his best to court popularity. 
Louis XII. attended banquets given by Francesco Bernardino 
Visconti, by Francesco Trivulzio and by the Commune of Milan. 
He stood sponsor for Lodovico Borromeo's baby, visited its 
mother, and presented his godchild with a magnificent gold 
necklace. Every one was loud in his praises, and Jean d 3 Auton, 
who had accompanied his royal patron to Italy, could declare 
with truth that for the time being there was neither Guelph nor 
Ghibelline who was not a good Frenchman. 

Meanwhile the fortunes of the exiled Duke contrasted 
sadly with the festivities which were being celebrated in his 
capital. During his flight from Italy he narrowly escaped 
falling into the hands of the French, who actually entered the 
suburbs of Como while Lodovico was still in the town. At 
Morbegno he fell in with the imperial escort which Maximilian 
had sent to his aid, but although he was henceforth free from 
danger, the welcome which he met with in Germany was any- 
thing but warm. Maximilian himself showed real sympathy, 
doing all In his power to further the interests of his ally. 1 The 
Diet, however, set their face against furnishing Sforza with 
effective aid, while towns such as Brixen and Innsbruck openly 
showed their dislike of receiving the fugitive within their walls. 
In the midst of these disappointments came the crushing news 
that the Castello had fallen. Lodovico's reception of the ill- 
tidings is thus graphically described by a chronicler : " Having 
read the letters and comprehended their evil contents, he 
stood without speaking as if he were dumb. Then at length, 
raising his eyes to heaven, he uttered these few words, From 
the time of Judas until to-day there has been no greater traitor 
than Bernardino da Corte'. For that day no other words 
passed his lips." 2 With the fall of the Castello was lost all 
chance of recovering Milan that year. II Moro must needs 
resign himself to a winter in Germany, while he endeavoured 

1 In a letter from Brixen, dated iSth October, 1499, Lodovico wrote that " His 
Imperial Majesty . . . could not be more disposed or determined to restore us to 
our home, and to re-establish us in our authority and position ". Cf. Decio, C., 
Arch. Stor. Lomb., 1902, p. 468. 

2 Grumello, A., Cronaca Pavese, 1467-1529. 


to build up a new army from the scanty materials at his 
command. The time passed sadly enough. Lodovico was 
suffering throughout from bad attacks of gout and fever, while 
his discomfort ivas increased by the change from his sunny 
Lombardy to the cold mountain air of Tyrol. Attracted by 
the easy terms which Louis XII. offered to those who made a 
voluntary submission, the little band of Sforza adherents began 
to melt away. Those who remained grew discontented and 
quarrelsome, while even the children's governess, Camilla, who 
hankered after the flesh-pots of Milan, added to II Moro's 
trials by her constant repinings. With the New Year, how- 
ever, hope dawned again. So long as Louis XI L remained in 
the Duchy, French rule prospered, but he had not long de- 
parted before a reaction set in. Trivulzio's government, 
identified as it was with the Guelphic party, soon incurred the 
dislike of the nobles, while the people found that the burden 
of taxation pressed even more heavily upon them than under 
Lodovico. In the eyes of the Milanese, moreover, the cession 
of Cremona and the Ghiarad'adda to Venice was " an undue 
spoiling of the Duchy," while the quartering of French soldiers 
on private houses proved a constant source of grievance. The 
malcontents were secretly encouraged by Ligny and the 
French Chancellor, Pierre de Saverges, who, in their jealousy 
of Trivulzio, wished nothing better than that his position in 
Milan should be rendered intolerable. Hence by the end of 
the year all mourned for Sforza. Messages or letters began 
to pour in upon Lodovico offering him every support if he 
would only return to his unhappy subjects. At the same time 
Galeazzo Visconti could announce the successful issue of his 
visit to Switzerland. Louis XII. had given little effective aid 
to the Swiss in their war with Maximilian. The mercenaries 
in Lombardy were irregularly paid. Above all, the Cantons 
had received no guarantee as to their much-prized commerce 
with Milan. Thus the Cantons agreed to abandon the French 
King and to supply 10,000 soldiers for the cause of Sforza. 
Lodovico's own treasure enabled him to enlist a certain number 
of German infantry besides the troops furnished by Maximilian. 
These, with some Stradiot light horse and the Italian forces 


upon which he could reckon, brought II Moro's army up to 
between 20,000 and 30,000 men. " Our affairs are in excellent 
condition," he wrote to Ippolito d'Este in January, " and we 
have a most certain hope of soon coming to acts." 1 

The news of Lodovico's preparations at once spread through 
the Duchy, evoking general enthusiasm for the House of Sforza. 
Bellinzona turned against its French garrison and insisted 
upon giving free passage to II Moro's troops. Ligny was forced 
to abandon Como, who threw open her gates to the advance 
guard under Galeazzo San Severino and Ascanio Sforza. Frate 
Landriano, the General of the Umiliati, worked his hardest to 
stir up the Milanese. Thanks to his efforts, by 3Oth January 
the capital was in full revolt. With Sforza adherents elected 
as the heads of the city gates, and with every child who was 
old enough to speak shouting " Moro," Trivulzio realised that 
it was time to depart. The drama of September was repeated 
with the parts reversed, and Trivulzio left Milan for Novara on 
the same day (3rd February) that Ascanio Sforza entered the 
city. Two days later Lodovico himself rode in at the Porta 
Nuova, " looking younger than ever," his friends assured them- 
selves, and amid enthusiasm which made the Mantuan am- 
bassador declare that " if the walls, the trees and the earth had 
possessed voices, they too would have cried ' Moro ! Moro ! ' " 2 
Among those who accompanied Lodovico along his joyful road 
to the Duomo, there must have been some who remembered 
Francesco Sforza's triumphal entry at the Porta Nuova just 
fifty years before, and who looked to the day's events to lay the 
foundations of another period of peace and prosperity under 
Sforza rule. 

Lodovico's months of exile seemed to have effaced all 
remembrance of his former unpopularity. He was a Sforza and 
therefore dear to the hearts of the Milanese, who spared no 
pains to raise the funds necessary for the re-establishment of 
his rule. " It is touching," wrote the Ferrarese ambassador, 
" to see the self-sacrifice and devotion of all this people." s By 
means of voluntary subscriptions, to which nearly all the 
corporations contributed, some 20,000 ducats a month were 
1 Pelissier, of. dt^ vol. ii. 2 O^. cit. 3 0p, cit. 


placed at Lodovlco's disposal. To supplement this the ducal 
crown and jewels were pawned, and even the treasures of the 
churches were thrown Into the war fund. There was every- 
thing to be gained by haste, as a fresh army was known to 
be mustering In France, and If Trivulzio could only be driven 
from Italy before its anival a great advantage would be won. 
Hence Lodovlco spent but a single day In Milan, and leaving 
Ascanio to carry on the siege of the Castello, he set out In 
pursuit of the French. In spite of the opposition of the natives, 
who cut bridges and threw trees across the roads, Trivulzio had 
made good his retreat to Novara. Then, leaving a strong 
garrison In the town, he had concentrated the main French 
force In the neighbourhood of Mortara. By the end of February 
these two places alone remained to the French while Lodovlco 
was before Novara concentrating all efforts on the siege. At 
length, on 22nd March, Novara capitulated. The news was 
received in Milan with the utmost rejoicing, and all hailed the 
approach of the day when the Alps would once more act as 
barriers between France and Italy. Yet the fall of Novara was 
to prove the last of Lodovlco's successes. During the weeks 
spent over the siege his army had gradually diminished and 
his funds had run short, while on the other hand the French 
forces had Increased. Galeazzo San Severino had let Ives 
d'AHegre, who had been aiding Caesar Borgia In Romagna, slip 
past him to rejoin Trivulzio at Mortara. Louis XII., although 
he could obtain no official aid from the Cantons, had by a 
plentiful scattering of French gold obtained a large supply of 
Swiss volunteers for the Lombard campaign. Worst of all, on 
2461 March La Tremouille arrived at the head of the new 
French army to bring fresh courage and discipline Into 
Trlvulzio's camp. The Milanese troops had for some time 
been clamorous for pay, and Lodovlco, fearing to earn for him- 
self a bad name, had refused to satisfy them by allowing a sack 
of Novara. Hence he was forced to return to Milan for more 
supplies, thereby forfeiting his last chance of an encounter with 
the French before La Tremouille's arrival. On Lodovlco's 
return to the camp, the French, having no longer anything to 
gain by delay, moved on Novara to give him battle. On 8th 


April a fiasco, which cannot be dignified with the name of battle, 
sealed the fate of the House of Sforza. The Swiss In Lodo- 
vico's service refused to fight against their countrymenj and the 
next day Swiss and Germans alike sought safe-conducts from 
Trivulzio in order that they might return home. II Moro, dis- 
guised as a Swiss pikeman, hoped to make good his escape. 
But as the Swiss filed past the French camp, he was discovered, 
thanks to the information furnished in return for a substantial 
bribe by one of the mercenaries, and to his own pale face and 
distinguished appearance, which marked him out for detection. 
" Poor Lodovico," wrote Morone, cc could not change his features 
nor his majestic expression and princely bearing, therefore he 
was recognised and taken in spite of his changed clothes." 1 
Lodovico made his surrender to Ligny who confined him pro- 
visionally to the Castello of Novara, while a courier was sent 
flying to Venice to acquaint the Doge with the "good news 
that Signor Lodovico Sforza has been taken by the French". 2 

Throughout the Novara campaign the French garrison in 
the Castello of Milan had shown a determination with which 
Da Corte's prompt surrender contrasted sadly. Ascanio Sforza 
had pressed the siege by every means in his power. He had 
cut off the canal which turned the Castello mill, and he had 
flooded the cellars stored with provisions and ammunition. 
Nevertheless, the Castellan, S. Quentin, continued to hold out 
until, on loth April, the news from the main seat of war ended 
the siege and enabled the French to occupy Milan without resist- 
ance. Well might Machlavelli exclaim against the uselessness 
of fortresses, when the first siege withstood by the Castello 
Sforzesco was conducted by a member of the House for whose 
glory and protection it had been erected. 

On i7th April Lodovico II Moro set out for France under 
Ligny's escort. He was so ill that he was obliged to travel 
the greater part of the way in a litter, while the Venetian am- 
bassador, who saw him as he rode through Lyons, predicted 
confidently that his days would be few. Lodovico remained 
for about a fortnight in the Castle of Pierre Encise at Lyons. 
Although Louis XII. turned a deaf ear to his request for an 
1 Verri, $foria di Milano> vol. ii, s Pelissier, op. dt, t vol. ii. 


Interview, he appears to have been otherwise honourably treated. 
The sensational reports as to the Iron cage which was being 
constructed for his reception seem to have originated with the 
Venetian ambassador, and they prove nothing save the Invin- 
cible hatred borne by the Venetians towards their fallen foe. 
From Lyons Lodovlco was removed to the fortress of Lys- 
Saint Georges In Berry, where he remained for the next four 
years. He was allowed to keep his faithful follower, Pier 
Francesco da Pontremoll, and two other Italians In his service, 
and to receive certain communications from the outside world 
Maximilian made persistent efforts for his friend's release. 
Although these proved unavailing he eventually procured his 
removal to Loches, where the prisoner enjoyed considerably 
more liberty. In the spring of 1508, however, Lodovlco made 
an attempt at escape. Having bribed one of his keepers he 
succeeded In passing the castle gates hidden in a cart load of 
straw, only to lose his way In the woods round Loches and to 
be brought back to stricter captivity. Even In his direst mis- 
fortune Lodovlco's love of art and literature did not fail him. 
The sole request which he had made on leaving Italy as a 
prisoner was for a copy of Dante's Divine Comedy from the 
library at Pavia. Now when books and papers were denied 
to him, he occupied the tedious hours In covering the walls of 
his dungeon with mottoes and designs. But II Moro had only 
a few weeks more to live, and on i/th May, 1508, the end came. 
Various traditions survive as to his place of burial, and of these 
one would fain believe the account given by the historian of S. 
Maria delle Grazie. 1 The friars of this convent, he relates, 
remembering all that Lodovlco had done for them In former 
years, contrived to bring his body back to Milan and to bury 
him In their own church by his wife's side, So died Lodovico 
Sforza In his fifty-seventh year. In the opinion of a recent 
writer, 2 the keynotes of his character were fear and ambition. 
This being so, the conflicting operation of these two motives 
may well account for his failure. Lodovico's refusal to allow 
the sack of Novara in March, 1 500, is, In this respect, typical of 

1 Grattico, Storia di Santa Maria delle Grazie. 
2 Segre, A., op. dt. Arch. Stor. Lomb,, 1902. 


his whole career. By means of the sack he might have avoided 
delay In attacking the enemy, and delay at that juncture was 
fatal. Ambition sufficed with him, as It would have done with 
his father, to outweigh any qualms of conscience. Yet, 
whereas Francesco would have ordered the sack without a 
moment's hesitatlpnj Lodovlco's fear of the possible conse- 
quences rendered him unable to act decisively. He preferred 
to run no risks and to seek fresh supplies In Milan. When he 
returned the moment for action had passed, never to return. 
Fear and ambition were not, however, the only elements of 
conflict In Lodovlco's career. He stands forth on the stage of 
history as a man both sinned against and sinning, a tragic per- 
sonality In whom the forces of good and evil were Inextricably 
Intertwined. He made for himself bitter enemies and devoted 
friends. He broke faith with others and was In his turn be- 
trayed. He ruled the Duchy of Milan as a usurper, yet he 
ruled it well and wisely. He combined, In short, the faults and 
fallings of the Renaissance with Its real merits and its subtle 
charm. A bad man, undoubtedly, but a man who, In his own 
day, proved capable of Inspiring devotion, and whom, seen even 
in the cold light of posterity, it is easier to forgive than to 

The fall of II Moro carried with it the captivity or exile of 
practically every member of the House of Sforza Cardinal 
Ascanlo, who on his brother's capture had fled from Milan with 
a body of horse, fell in with some Venetian forces near Piacenza 
and was taken prisoner by their captain, Soncino Benzone of 
Crema. After some delay he was taken to France and confined 
at Bourges until his release, In 1503, enabled him to play a brief 
although active part in Italian politics before his death. In the 
autumn of 1499 Lodovico had wished Francesco, the Infant son 
of Gian Galeazzo, to accompany his own children to Germany. 
Isabella had, however, refused to let him go, with the result that 
the Duchetto, as the Milanese called him, was promptly separ- 
ated from his mother by Louis XII. and despatched to France 
to be brought up as a monk. Thereupon Isabella retired with 
her two daughters to Bar! where she spent the remainder of her 
life. Ermes Sforza, who was among the prisoners taken to 


France in April, 1500, subsequently obtained his release through 
the Intercession of his sister, the Queen of the Romans. He then 
retired to the Court of Innsbruck where his cousins, Masslmlllano 
and Francesco, had remained since their father's departure for 
Italy, and which was to form the refuge of many loyal Sforzeschi 
during the next few years. Even Caterina Sforza and the Lord 
of Pesaro shared the misfortunes of their Milanese cousins. 
Caesar Borgia had opened his career In Romagna by possessing 
himself of Imola and Forli and by sending Caterina a prisoner 
to Rome. In the autumn of 1500 he marched on Pesaro and 
Giovanni Sforza fled at his approach. It seemed Indeed as 
though the history of the Sforza were closed. Yet such was 
the tenacity with which the Italians clung to their native lords, 
that, In spite of the catastrophe which had overwhelmed their 
House, two Sforza Dukes were yet to reign In Milan. 

On the news of the rebellion of Milan, Louis XII. had sent 
Cardinal d' Amboise to Italy to act as his representative. Thus 
to him fell the task of pacification now that the movement had 
collapsed. The Milanese realised that their cause would be 
best served by abject submission. Hence, when Amboise 
entered Milan on I7th April, the citizens knelt bareheaded in 
the streets praying for forgiveness, while bands of children 
passed in procession before the Cardinal crying "France, 
mercy". Louis XII. had determined to be as conciliatory as 
possible, and Amboise was able to promise pardon in return for 
a fine of 800,000 crowns. This was subsequently reduced to 
300,000, of which only rather more than half was paid, the rest 
being remitted at the request of the French Queen. It was 
natural, under the circumstances, that the possessions of those 
who had played a prominent part In the rebellion should be 
used as rewards for the French generals. Thus to Trivulzio 
fell Vigevano with the title of Marquis, Ligny received Galeazzo 
San Severino's lands at Vermes, while Cardinal d } Amboise 
occupied Lodovico's vast estates in the Lomellina. Yet Italians 
such as the Borromei, who had aided the French cause, were not 
forgotten, while many of the leading rebels were afterwards 
reconciled with the French King. Among these was Galeazzo 
San Severino, who, after living in exile at Innsbruck until all 


chance of II Mora's release was gone, returned to Milan In 1 5045 
to become a royal favourite and to be made Master of the Horse 
to Louis XII. in the following year. 

Such constitutional changes as were Introduced by the 
French dated from Louis XI Us ordinance on the general ad- 
ministration of the Duchy In November, I499. 1 This document 
endowed the Lieutenant-General with supreme military and 
political authority throughout the Duchy, while at the same 
time It created a Senate, partly French and partly Italian, which 
should act as a check upon the royal Lieutenant The Senate 
was composed of fourteen members (two ecclesiastics, four 
soldiers and eight lawyers) presided over by a Chancellor, the 
Italian members being chosen from those holding the office of 
Ducal Councillor at that time. As the limitation In numbers pre- 
vented all the existing Councillors from obtaining a seat, those 
who were excluded were allowed to retain their honours and to 
fill the places of any Senators who might be absent from Milan. 
The connection between the Senate and the Councils Is also seen 
in the stipulation that the new body should sit twice a day except 
on festivals "as did the old Councils". 2 The Senate Inherited 
many of Its attributes from the Councils, as, for Instance, Its 
supreme judicial authority and Its control over the University 
of Pavia. Owing, however, to Louis XII/s desire to bridle the 
power of the Lieutenant-General, It enjoyed a position of in- 
dependence unknown to either Council under the old regime. 
Whereas the Councillors formerly held office at the will of the 
Duke, a member of the Senate could only be removed by the 
vote of his colleagues. No royal edicts or grants of privileges 
were valid until registered by the Senate, from whose decrees 
there was no appeal save for revision by the same body. These 
modifications have been used to draw a sharp distinction be- 
tween the Senate and the Ducal Councils. The Councils, it 
has been maintained, were instruments of the despotism, while 
the chief function of the Senate was to bridle the power of the 
royal Lieutenant 8 Important as were the new attributes of 

1 P61issier, L. G., Documents pour Vhistoire de la domination frangaise dans 
UMilanais (1499-1500), No. n. 

2 Del Giudice, op. cit. 3 Crespi, A. L fJ Del Senato in Milano, 


the Senate, this distinction can easily be pressed too far. 
Although the Councils owed their origin to the Duke, they had 
come, in practice, to be regarded as a check upon his absolutism. 
Thus Louis XIL had only to reform the Councils upon a recog- 
nised French model to produce just that feature in the Constitu- 
tion which he desired. In 1500 the Senate was revived to 
remain practically unchanged until the end of the eighteenth 
century. Yet the old tendencies of the Milanese Constitution 
were still at work. As early as 1513 mention is made of the 
Secret Senate, 1 the consulting committee of the Duke or 
Governor, which, like Simonetta's Secret Council of the Castello, 
tended to absorb the chief work of government to the detriment 
of the larger and more independent body. 

In October, 1498, II Moro had ordered the reform of the 
Statutes of Milan, which had been first promulgated by Gian 
Galeazzo Visconti. Now on the petition of the citizens, the 
task was continued by Cardinal Amboise, assisted by the Senate 
and the College of Jurisprudence. In April, 1502, the result of 
their labours was published by a, royal diploma for observance 
throughout the Duchy. 

Louis XIL realised the importance of establishing personal 
relations between himself and his new subjects. In the summer 
of 1502 he made a royal progress through the Duchy which 
did much to reconcile the inhabitants to his rule. Early in 
July the King arrived at Asti. With him came the Benedictine 
chronicler, Jean d'Auton, eager to notice the distinguishing 
features of a country which now formed part of the French 
dominions. Through his eyes it is possible to view the 
Duchy of Milan, as it were, from the outside. From Asti 
Louis XIL set out for Milan, pausing for a few days at Vige- 
vano and then proceeding by way of Abbiategrasso and the 
Naviglio Grande to the capital. " On either side of the canal," 
d'Auton describes, " are great leafy guelder-rose bushes which 
shade the passers-by ; from both banks stretch beautiful green 
meadows full of fruit-trees and with little brooks running through 
them. Magnificent pleasure-houses and villas are built upon 

1 Archivio di Stato di Milano, Documents Diplomatic*, Dominio Sforstesco, 


the water's edge, while draw-bridges connect one side of the 
stream with the other. Between the trees and the canal on 
both sides are sanded paths for the convenience of foot passengers 
and horses. Small fish of every kind abound. And I was 
told," he adds, " that Signor Lodovico had thus pleased to lay 
out the district, which is indeed so attractive and pleasant that 
it savours more of Paradise than of earth." I In Milan the 
beauty of the ladies and the splendour of their apparel Is what 
chiefly attracts d Auton's notice. " More delightful to the eyes 
than the rays of the morning sun," the worthy Frenchman de- 
scribes them, while the ladies of Genoa appeared to him " more 
like nymphs and goddesses than human women ". Neither their 
heavy robes nor the jewels with which they were loaded pre- 
vented the ladies of Lombardy from taking active exercise in 
the form of dancing. At a great ball given by Trivulzio, on the 
occasion of Louis XIL's visit to Italy in 1507, Jean dAuton 
tells how the hostess was ready to receive her guests at " ten 
o'clock in the morning". 2 In less than two hours 3 time the 
King arrived to find some 1,200 ladies present, and they then 
danced without stopping until evening, when the banquet was 
spread. From Milan the King made his way to Pavia, where 
d'Auton waxes eloquent over the glories of the Castello, the 
Park, the Certosa, the University and the " thousand other 
beautiful and interesting monuments" 3 which he saw there. 
Then at the special request of the citizens, Louis XII. visited 
Genoa, < one of the proudest cities in the world," which, if he 
could only keep it, would render the Most Christian King 
master not only of the earth but of the sea. At the end of 
August the French King started on his homeward journey, 
taking with him the sons of some of the principal Lombard 
nobility as a proof of his regard for his new subjects. 

During the, two months which Louis XII. spent in the 
Duchy of Milan his power in Italy was at its zenith. The con- 
quest of Milan had been followed by that of Naples. In 1501, 
the armies of France and Spain combined to drive out the 
illegitimate line of Aragon, in the person of King Federico, and 

1 Chv de jfean dAuton, vol. ii., p. 187. 
2 Op. cit., vol. iv., p. 87, 3 Vol. ii,, p. 195. 


to divide the Southern Kingdom between them. Louis XI Us 
own successes, moreover, were only rivalled by those of his ally 
Caesar Borgia, who, in three successive campaigns, had made 
himself master of the Romagnol towns and was now threatening 
Florence. Hence the smaller Italian princes gathered round 
Louis XII, both from fear of the certain destruction which 
would await the enemies of France, and in order to gain 
the support of the only power which could save them from 
Caesar Borgia's clutches. Princes such as the Duke of Urbino 
and the Marquis of Mantua who, as Jean d'Auton puts it, 
" hated the Duke of Valentinois like poison," did their best to 
turn the French King against Caesar. When it appeared that 
the latter did not hesitate to attack even the allies of France, 
there was a temporary coolness between him and Louis. Caesar, 
however, could not yet afford to quarrel with his royal patron. 
Hence he rode post-haste to Milan, arriving late at night to 
meet the King returning by torchlight from a supper in the 
city. For the rest of his stay in Lombardy Cassar used every 
means in his power to ingratiate himself with the French King. 
Whenever Louis XII. wished to dismount, Cassar was at hand 
to hold his horse's bridle. The monarch would soon go no- 
where without him, and when they at length parted at Asia, the- 
friendship between them was stronger than ever. Meanwhile 
many Cardinals and high ecclesiastics came to pay their re- 
spects to Louis XII. and to make lavish promises as to the 
support which they would give the French candidate for the 
Papacy in the event of Alexander VL's death. It seemed as 
though Georges d'Amboise had every hope of succeeding the 
present Pope. According to Jean d'Auton he already looked 
forward to the day when he should see the apostolic keys 
" dangling from his girdle ". 

In spite of the schemes which had already been laid with a 
view to that event, Alexander VL's death in August, 1503, was 
sufficiently unexpected to ruin his son's career and to throw 
the Sacred College into confusion. Caesar Borgia's possessions 
melted even more rapidly than they had been acquired, and his 
fiery figure vanished from the stage of Italian history. Mean- 
while Georges d'Amboise hurried from France to Rome, bring- 


Castello S/bffft-sco, Milan 


Ing with him Ascanlo Sforza in order that his Influence might 
be used to secure votes for the French Cardinal. Ascanio, how- 
ever, once his own master, did not intend to further the interests 
of one who had till recently been his gaoler. Fortified by 
his position as Vice-Chancellor and by 100,000 ducats, "with 
which, JJ a chronicler cynically remarks, " to buy the voice of 
the Holy Spirit, 3 ' he was mainly instrumental In securing the 
election of the Cardinal of Siena. For one short month Ascanlo 
dominated papal policy, until his schemes for using his influence 
to further the cause of Sforza were nipped In the bud by the 
death of the new Pope Pius III. When Giuliano della Rovere 
assumed the tiara as Julius II., It was clear that the Papacy 
would serve the interests of neither Amboise nor Sforza unless 
they should chance to coincide with those of the powerful and 
ambitious occupant of the Chair of S. Peter. Ascanlo, how- 
ever, did not give up hope. He had obtained Pius III.'s abso- 
lution from his promise to return to France after the election, 
and he remained in Rome awaiting the opportunity to strike a 
blow at the enemies of his House. The political atmosphere 
at this date was by no means unfavourable to a movement 
which was directed against French power In Italy, Amboise's 
failure to win the Apostolic See was followed by the battle of the 
Garigliano, when Louis XII. reaped the reward of his folly In 
bringing into Italy " a most powerful stranger," who was strong 
enough to act as his rival. The complete victory of the 
Spaniards on this occasion forced the French to evacuate all 
that remained to them of Neapolitan territory. Ferdinand of 
Aragon remained sole possessor of the Kingdom of Naples, 
which in his hands might well prove a formidable rival to the 
French Duchy of Milan. Both Julius II. and the Venetians, 
moreover, began to see In France a serious obstacle to their 
policy of territorial expansion. Hence, when /the Illness of 
Louis XII. in 1505 furnished Ascanio Sforza with a suitable 
occasion for carrying out his designs, he obtained secret aid 
from Spain while the Papacy and Venice smiled on his under- 
taking. Ascanio enlisted the services of the condottiere, Barto- 
lommeo d'Alvlano, who was to render an attempt to restore 
the Medici to Florence the prelude of an attack on Milan, 


Thus the happy days before 1494 would be revived, and Italy 
would rejoice under the rule of her native lords. When all 
arrangements had been made, Louis XII., who was held to be 
dying, made a marvellous recovery. Almost at the same time 
Ascanio Sforza caught the plague and died in Rome after three 
days' illness. Bereft of its leader the scheme dwindled into an 
abortive attack on Florence on the part of d' Alviano. < So/' 
muses Guicciardini, "are the designs of men vain and fal- 
lacious." * 

After the death of Ascanio, Louis XII. could have little to 
fear from the House of Sforza for several years to come. Yet 
it was not long ere he was confronted with fresh difficulties in 
the shape of a rebellion in Genoa. The cause of the revolt lay 
less in disloyalty to France than in the interminable strife of 
nobles and people within the city. An insult on the part of 
one of the Spinola towards a member of the popular party 
formed the occasion for riots which, owing to the bad manage- 
ment of the French governor, assumed serious proportions. 
The impression that France was against them gained ground 
among the democrats. In a short time their cry of " Francia " 
was changed into that of "popolo ". A dyer called Paolo da 
Novi was elected as Doge, the French garrison was driven from 
the Castelletto and the popular cause reigned supreme. Louis 
XII. thereupon determined to stamp out the rebellion in person, 
and in April, 1507, he arrived before Genoa. Within three 
days the city made an unconditional surrender. Paolo da Novi 
fled to Corsica to be subsequently caught and executed, while 
the French King entered Genoa in triumph. Here Louis XII. 
administered punishment to the rebel city in the shape of a 
heavy fine and the withdrawal of her privileges. He then 
withdrew to Milan to celebrate his conspicuous success by a 
round of festivities. The rebellion and its suppression by the 
French King in person occasioned general alarm among the 
Powers of Italy. Julius II. was a native of Savona, who be- 
longed by birth to the popular party in Genoa, and his sym- 
pathy with the rebels was well known. The news of Louis 

1 Op. ined., vol. iii., p. 317. 


XII/s coming found him at Bologna, from whence he hurried 
back to Rome, announcing that his doctor had ordered him 
immediate change of air. His apprehensions were shared by 
Venice, who had everything to fear from the increased strength 
of her neighbour in Lombardy, and by Ferdinand of Aragon, 
whom the close commercial intercourse between Genoa and 
Spain rendered peculiarly sensitive to the fate of that city. 
More directly antagonistic to French rule was Maximilian, King 
of the Romans. In 1501 Louis XII. had recognised the im- 
perial rights over Milan by agreeing to buy the investiture for 
200,000 francs. At the same time Claude of France was be- 
trothed to Maximilian's grandson, the future Charles V. 5 on 
the understanding that they should rule Milan if Louis XI L 
died without heirs male. Four years later Louis XIL, thinking 
that his end was near, made a will which ignored this bargain and 
which left Francis of AngouMme heir to the Duchy of Milan 
as well as to the throne of France. Maximilian was naturally 
indignant, while the affair at Genoa added to the list of his 
grievances. Genoa was an imperial city, and during the re- 
bellion the citizens had appealed to Maximilian for aid. Thus 
he regarded the suppression of the revolt as a fresh insult to 
his dignity. He determined to set out for Rome in order to 
receive the imperial crown. With this end in view he appealed 
to the Diet of Constance for an army with which to defend 
Italy and the Empire from the designs of Louis XIL 

The rebellion of Genoa emphasised the growing opposition 
to French rule in Italy. Yet, great as was the fear of France, 
the fear and hatred of Venice was still greater. She alone of 
all the Italian Powers had gained rather than lost by the French 
invasions. Her possession of Cremona and the Ghiarad'adda 
was hotly resented in Milan. Her expansion in the Romagna 
brought her into contact with Julius II. Her occupation of 
the Apulian coast-towns threatened the ruler of Naples. Even 
from the smaller States, such as Mantua and Ferrara, towns and 
territories had been filched by the rapacious Republic. Hence, 
if the attitude of the Powers towards France after the rebellion 
of Genoa foreshadowed the Holy League, the forces which 
produced the League of Cambjrai were ako in operation, Italy 


was in quest of a scapegoat. It was not yet clear whether 
France or Venice would first be selected to fill that office. 

Save for the isolated case of Genoa, the Duchy of Milan 
had apparently acquiesced in French rule. During Louis XI Us 
illness the Lieutenant-General had taken the precaution of 
provisioning the fortresses against attack, but even the rumour 
of the King's death produced little open revolt During the 
years which followed II Moro's fall, Milan suffered heavily both 
from plague and famine, while the brutalities of the French 
soldiers quartered on them called forth a perpetual wail from 
the capital and the subject-towns. Ere long, however, the 
Duchy recovered from the effects of the war, and signs of 
renewed prosperity began to appear. Whereas in October, 
1499, the export of grain to Cremona was forbidden on the 
ground that the Duchy had not sufficient for its own wants, 
an edict of August, 1 508, announced that Milan produced each 
year far more than was necessary for its own consumption, and 
that the export of the surplus was henceforth to be encouraged. 1 
Moreover, the numerous notices of trade-gilds, especially of 
the cloth and silk weavers and of the wool merchants, show 
that trade continued to flourish under the French. The ruin 
of Milanese trade came during the last years of Louis XII/s 
rule, when the League of Cambrai forced the Duchy to bear 
fresh war burdens, while, by cutting off all communication 
with Venice, it robbed Milanese merchants of their best 
market. Nevertheless^ the atmosphere of Milan, even before 
the League of Cambrai, was far from settled. Da Paullo waxes 
eloquent over the arbitrary behaviour of the French Captain of 
Justice who would arrest some poor artisan on his way home 
from work on the pretext that he carried no light, in order to 
extort from him a ransom. He also relates how a workman 
was fined twenty-five ducats for exclaiming on the Piazza, " It 
is impossible to remain as we are". A curious document 
addressed by the Venetian ambassador to the Council of Ten 
in September, IS04, 2 shows both the real antipathy of the 
Dtichy towards the French and the reasons which prevented this 

1 Pelissier, Documents, etc., Nos. 6 and 64, 
? PHssier, of, cit^ etg.. No. 29, 


antipathy from expressing Itself in open rebellion. Almost all 
the Lombards, according to the Venetian, were Trivulzio's 
enemies, but so long as the latter remained In Milan, well sup- 
plied with soldiers and money, he would have no reason to fear. 
The bulk of the opposition to French rule sprang from the Ghi- 
belllnes whose riches and influence had been greatly diminished 
by the penalties imposed on them, and who were, moreover, 
divided into at least three separate groups, each looking askance 
at the others. For the rest Milan was " a city which contained 
many people and few men ". There were none who possessed 
either the means or the determination to face the consequences 
of rebellion. Cowed by the disasters of 1500 and her strength 
wasted by internal strife, Milan had ceased to have an inde- 
pendent policy. She could only accept such changes of 
government as the conflicting ambitions of foreign powers 
should force upon her. 



THE final overthrow of Lodovico II Moro had been brought 
about by the Swiss, and It was their pikes which upheld 
his son Maximilian during the three troubled years of his reign 
in Milan. Hence the wearisome fluctuations of Swiss policy, 
during the period that intervened, gain an importance which 
they would not otherwise possess. In them lies the clue to the 
process which transformed the betrayers of one member of the 
House of Sforza into the guardians of another. At the same 
time they form the prelude to what is perhaps the most curious 
episode in the history of Milan, an episode which seemed about 
to determine the fate of the Duchy, once and for all, by turning 
it into a Swiss Canton. 

Two main causes are responsible for the concern of the Swiss 
in the affairs of Milan at this time. 1 In the first place it was a 
matter of vital necessity to that nation that its all-important 
commerce in Lombardy should be placed on a sure basis. If 
to such Cantons as Zurich and Bern the connection with Milan 
formed the chief source of their commercial prosperity, to the 
Forest Cantons it was practically a matter of life and death. To 
close the passes of the Alps against them would be to cut them off 
from their chief food supply. Throughout the fifteenth century 
the Swiss had aimed at obtaining permanent control over two of 
the chief Alpine routes by the acquisition of Bellinzona and 
Domodossola. Bellinzona, as the modern traveller knows well,, 

1 C/. Kohler, C., Les Suisses dans Us guerres d'ltalie (1506-1512), which forms 
the chief authority for the relations between the Swiss and Milan at this period, 



bars the entrance into Italy by the S. Gotthard and the Val 
Leventina, while Domodossola guards the SImplon. Hence if 
the Swiss held these two fortresses, they would no longer be at 
the mercy of the ruler of Milan. In the confusion which 
followed the death of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the Swiss cap- 
tured both towns only to be driven from them by Filippo 
Maria's captains in 1422, Again, during the last quarter of 
the century, the disturbed State of Milan in 1478 formed the 
occasion of a Swiss attack on Bellinzona, while nine years later 
the men of Valais laid siege to Domodossola. Both these 
attempts failed, and the Swiss were forced to content themselves 
with favourable commercial treaties with the Dukes of Milan, 
as a means of keeping the gates of Lombardy open to them. 
They remained in close alliance with the House of Sforza until, 
as has been already noticed, Lodovico's closing of the passes in 
1499 drove them into the arms of France. The Swiss, however, 
were not only traders, they were also a nation of mercenaries. 
In this capacity they were brought into close connection with 
the French. Ever since Swiss arms had overthrown the great 
enemy of Louis XL at Nancy, Switzerland had been regarded 
as the recruiting ground of the Kings of France. A system of 
pensions to the Governments of each Canton and to influential 
individuals had taught the Swiss the value of French gold, so 
that, unless they were themselves at war, a large body of mer- 
cenaries were at the French King's disposal, whenever he 
required their services. Thus the treaty of 1499 between 
Louis XII. and the Swiss Cantons seemed as though it would 
serve a double purpose. The Swiss would continue to act as 
the mercenaries of France while their commerce would be safe- 
guarded by their friendly relations with the new ruler of Milan. 
Yet it soon became clear that the French occupation of Milan 
rendered the passage of the Alps even more precarious than it 
had been under the Sforza Dukes. Hence a party grew up 
among the Swiss which opposed the French alliance on the 
ground that it turned their countrymen into hirelings and ran 
counter to the true interests of the nation. ' The part played 
by the Swiss in the history of Milan during the next fifteen 
years resulted from the struggles of this party against the 


demoralising influence of French gold, which blinded the eyes 
and limited the ambitions of a large portion of the nation. 

The first contest between the two parties in Switzerland 
produced the catastrophe of Novara, when the troops furnished 
by the Swiss authorities to II Moro refused to fight against the 
volunteers who had joined Louis XII. On their way home 
some of the Swiss took the opportunity to seize Bellinzona, 
and when, in obedience to the complaints of Louis XII., the 
Helvetian Diet weakly called on them to yield the town, the 
members of the Forest Cantons stood firm. In alliance with the 
discontented mercenaries, who had not received their full pay- 
ment for the Novara campaign, they twice invaded the Milanese 
until Louis XII. was forced to buy peace at the price of Bellin- 
zona. The French King in June, 1503, renewed the com- 
mercial treaties which had existed between the Swiss and the 
Sforza Dukes, and ceded Bellinzona in perpetuity, whence it 
remains to-day a Swiss town. At the same time the mercen- 
aries received enough money to induce them to abandon further 
claims. Thus both parties were satisfied, and for several years 
to come nothing occurred to break the amicable relations exist- 
ing between the Cantons and Louis XII. Nevertheless, when 
in the spring of 1508 Maximilian prepared to invade Italy, he 
could congratulate himself on having secured the services of 
the Swiss. By the treaty of 1499 the mercenaries in French 
service were not bound to fight against an imperial city. Hence 
at the time of the rebellion of Genoa, Louis XII. asked for a 
levy of 4,000 infantry without mentioning the purpose for 
which the troops were required. Maximilian took care to 
supply this deficiency, and his entreaties that they should be 
loyal to the Empire induced the Swiss authorities to order the 
troops, which had already set out for Italy, not to proceed 
farther than the Po. The order arrived too late to prevent the 
Swiss contingent from playing an important part in the reduc- 
tion of Genoa. Thereupon the anti-French party in Switzer- 
land once more became prominent. A deputation attended 
the Diet of Constance, where it was agreed both to recall the 
mercenaries from Lombardy and to levy 6,000 Swiss for 
Maximilian's Italian expedition. With the French King de- 


prived of his best infantry, the invasion had every .prospect of 
success, and Maximilian was reported to be " as happy as if he 
had conquered a province". 1 The two Sforza boys came to 
Constance, where they were enthusiastically received by the 
many Milanese exiles who had gathered there. At the same 
time the report of Maximilian's speedy arrival before Milan at 
the head of an army caused no small alarm to the French. 
Once more, however, the bribes scattered broadcast among the 
Swiss by Louis XIL's agents paralysed the action of the Gov- 
ernment The Diet declined to let Maximilian's levy set out, 
lest a part of the nation should insist on going to the aid of the 
French, and the fiasco of Novara should thus be repeated. 
Hence Maximilian was forced to embark on the expedition 
without Swiss aid, complaining, as he did so, that "Louis XII. 
had too many crowns for people to dispute profitably with 
him". 2 In Italy fresh disappointments awaited him. With 
his usual happy confidence Maximilian had made sure of the 
active support of Venice, but, far from aiding him, the Re- 
public refused to grant a free passage to his armies. After 
a feeble move on Vicenza by the Val Sugana, Maximilian 
retired to Botzen, while the remainder of his troops were routed 
in the Friuli by Bartolommeo d'Alviano. The only result of 
the expedition was the empty title of Emperor- Elect which 
Julius II. granted to Maximilian on his failure to reach Rome. 
Louis XI Us peaceable return to France in July, 1507, with- 
out having attacked either Empire or Papacy, produced a 
reaction in his favour among the Powers of Italy. From 
henceforth Venice became the chief object of their animosity. 
On his way home Louis XII. had an interview with Ferdinand 
of Aragon at Savona, when the Spanish monarch promised to 
act as mediator between Louis and Maximilian in order that 
all three might join hands against the Venetians. His task 
was facilitated by the "shameful truce" with Venice, which 
ended Maximilian's Italian expedition. The Emperor, eager 
for revenge, made common cause with the French King, who, in 
spite of the aid which he had furnished to Venice, had not been 
consulted as to the terms of the truce. When the European 
1 Kohler, <#.#*. *Ibid. 


monarchs led the way the Italian princes followed, and in De- 
cember, 1508, the League of Cambral was formed. Pope, Em- 
peror, France, Spain, Ferrara and Mantua allied in order to 
reduce the Venetians to the position of " humble fishermen," and 
to divide the territories of the Republic among themselves. 

From the point of view of Milan the War of Cambrai is 
chiefly important for the ruin which it brought to the prosperity 
of the Duchy, and from the fact that it witnessed the final breach 
between Louis XII. and the Swiss. On the conclusion of the 
League a Venetian ambassador crossed the Alps to seek not 
merely a levy of Swiss mercenaries, but an equal alliance 
between the two Republics against the tyrants who hated them 
and their liberty. The offer tempted the Cantons in more 
ways than one. They had not been included in the League of 
Cambrai, and they feared that it might prove the occasion of 
an attempt to wrest Bellinzona from their grasp. Moreover, 
the idea of conquering Lombardy in alliance with Venice in- 
stead of figuring in Italy solely as the hired servants of France, 
appealed to the more independent party in the nation. Yet, 
while the Swiss were still hesitating, came the news of the 
disastrous defeat of the Venetians at the Ghiarad'adda in May, 
1509. When Venice was reduced to such despair as to con- 
template abandoning once and for all her mainland dominions, 
the Swiss alliance had passed out of the sphere of practical 
politics. Nevertheless, the mere fact that such an alliance had 
been mooted made the Cantons look coldly on Louis XII.'s 
proposal to renew the old arrangement as to the supply of 
mercenaries embodied in the treaty of 1499. The French 
King, elated by his success and bent on reducing his expenses, 
was not in the mood to pander to the ambitions of the Swiss. 
Hence the breach gradually widened, and the anti-French party 
in Switzerland, headed by Matthias Schinner, Archbishop of 
Sion, grew bolder. This remarkable prelate had asked too 
high a price for his services from the French King. In reject- 
ing them Louis XII. had made an implacable enemy, who did 
not rest until he had driven the French from Italy. 

In February, 1510, Julius II. brought about a new phase 
in the War of Cambrai by suddenly changing sides. Having 


obtained his share of Venetian territory, he proceeded to 
forgive the erring Republic and to join with her against the 
French. Through the influence of Schinner, the Pope was 
able to engage some 10,000 Swiss mercenaries, nominally to 
be used in the papal attack on Ferrara, but who would, Julius 
hoped, become embroiled with the French on their march 
across Lombardy. With regard to this last point Julius IL 
obtained his wish. Yet the expedition proved a complete 
failure. The Swiss found their passage hindered by French 
troops, while the Inhabitants of the Duchy showed no sympathy 
with an attack made In the Interests of the Papacy and Venice. 
At the end of September the mercenaries had got hardly 
farther than Coino, from whence they retired to Beilinzona 
under a volley of papal abuse at their Ill-success, In the re- 
action which followed the Swiss would probably have come to 
terms with France had It not been for the Forest Cantons. 
They, however, Indignant at Louis XIUs recent exclusion of 
their merchants from Lombardy and at the repeated enlist- 
ment of mercenaries by French agents against the orders of 
the Government, secured the final rejection of the French 
King's offers. Not content with this the men of Schwytz and 
Fribourg made the arrest of three of their couriers at Lugano 
the pretext for a fresh invasion of Lombardy In November, 
1511. Other Cantons joined the expedition, and In December 
an imposing army arrived within sight of Milan. A letter 
was despatched to the citizens, which spoke of the friendship 
between Swiss and Lombards under the Sforza regime, and 
which bade them In the name of liberty rise against the 
foreign oppressor. For some days the Swiss waited, hoping 
that Milan would make some response to their advances. Yet 
none came, and with the city and Castello fortified against 
their approach, they dared not venture upon an attack. Hence 
the mercenaries expressed their willingness to be bought off. 
After prolonged haggling as to terms the Swiss returned home, 
having failed for a second time to oust the French from Milan. 
The career of Louis XII. In Italy was, however, drawing to a 
close. In the autumn of 1511 he sought to avenge himself on 
Julius II. by means of a General Council summoned to Pisa. 


The Council had hardly met before the Florentines besought 
that It might be removed to some other place. Its withdrawal 
to Milan was equivalent to its failure. When no Italian State 
would allow the Council to be held within its territories, the 
deposition of Julius II. and the election of an anti-Pope by 
a few Cardinals of the French party was a matter of purely 
academic interest. Meanwhile the League of Cambrai was 
transformed into the Holy League. In the early months of 
1512 Louis XII. must needs defend his Italian possessions 
against the joint attack of the Pope, the King of Aragon and 
the Venetians. All the hopes of the French were centred in 
the genius of their young Lieutenant-General, Gaston de Foix. 
Hence his death at Ravenna robbed a most brilliant victory of 
half its value to the cause of France. If De Foix had lived 
he would probably have pressed on to Rome, where Julius II. 
awaited in terror the approach of the victorious army. But 
paralysed by the loss of their leader and short of supplies, the 
French tarried until the opportunity had passed. At the end 
of May they were forced to rally all their strength in order to 
defend Milan against some 20,000 Swiss who had entered 
Lombardy as the allies of the Holy League. 

The army which now threatened the Duchy of Milan was 
the strongest that had been raised by the Swiss since the days 
of their struggle with Charles the Bold. It was composed 
partly of mercenaries in the service of the Holy League, but at 
least two-thirds of the force consisted of volunteers who fought 
in the interests of the Swiss alone. Foremost in all prepara- 
tions stood the Archbishop of Sion, who had been made Car- 
dinal and Papal Legate of Lombardy by Julius II., in order 
that he might wage war on the French. " We know the Swiss 
malady ; it is promptly cured with money," l was Schinner's 
constant advice to the Holy League. Thanks to his efforts no 
expense was spared in preserving the loyalty of his greedy 
countrymen. The Emperor Maximilian, although he declined 
to join the Holy League, agreed to a year's truce with Venice. 
He withdrew the German troops which had fought in Lombardy 
in alliance 4 with France, and he further aided the expedition 

1 Kohler, op. cit, 


by granting the Swiss a free passage through his dominions* 
Above all, the invading army profited by the fact that they had 
definitely embraced the cause of the Sforza. Schinner pro- 
claimed openly that he had come to place young Massimiliano 
upon his father's throne, while the presence of two illegitimate 
sons of Galeazzo Maria in the Swiss ranks vouched for the sin- 
cerity of his promises. Hence the inhabitants of the Duchy forgot 
their former fears and showed their sympathy with the invaders 
by every means in their power. In Milan " every one rejoiced, 
hoping to be free from tyrants and to have an Italian lord ".* 
The affairs of the French, on the other hand, went from bad to 
worse. La Palice, who became the chief of the army on De Foix's 
death, but who lacked his authority as Lieutenant-General, was 
forced to waste precious time over a futile expedition to Ro- 
magna, with a view to frightening the Pope into good behaviour. 
Louis XIL's ill-advised parsimony considerably reduced the 
forces available for the defence of Milan. Worse still, La 
Palice expected the Swiss to invade the Milanese from the 
north, whereas, thanks to Maximilian, they were able to descend 
by the Brenner and so to enter the Duchy from the east. La 
Palice only found out his mistake when the Swiss were in pos- 
session of Verona and had joined forces with the Venetians. 
His attempt at the eleventh hour to hold the line of the Mincio 
proved a forlorn hope. Swiss and Venetians pressed on, not 
only across the Mincio but across the Oglio and the Adda, 
driving the French forces before them. The news that Milan 
was on the point of rebellion forced La Palice to retire to 
Pavia, but even here he dared not tarry. On the refusal of the 
Swiss to negotiate he resolved to evacuate the city. In less 
than a week the French army was flying in two scattered 
remnants across the Alps. 

Meanwhile Cremona opened her gates to Schinner, who 
took possession of the city in the name of the Holy League 
leaving it under the charge of Alessandro Sforza. The loyal 
Sforzeschi of Pavia promptly informed the allied forces of the 
departure of the French. In their joy at receiving their old 
Governor, Giovanni Sforza, Bishop of Genoa 3 they hailed the 
1 Paullo, A. da, Cronaca Milanese, 


Swiss as deliverers, and provided them with a month's wages. 
While the Swiss were still at Pavia, Schinner received a depu- 
tation of twelve citizens from Milan, who came to offer them- 
selves to the League and to ask for the restoration of II Moro's 
son. In answer to their request, the Archbishop was graciously 
pleased to accept their oath of fealty in the name of Massimi- 
liano Sforza. When at the end of July Ottavlano Sforza, 
Bishop of Lodi, entered Milan as Regent, he was welcomed 
with the utmost enthusiasm. This was the first manifestation of 
the downfall of the French and of the return of the old regime. 
Hence the bells rang out, while shouts of u Lzga" and "Sforza" 
resounded through the streets. On all sides the cause of the 
League triumphed. Como swore fealty to the Sforza Duke 
and massacred the more ardent partisans of France. Genoa 
set up a Fregoso Doge under the auspices of Venice. Julius 
II. obtained possession of Parma, Piacenza and the greater 
part of Romagna. Thus by the end of August the Castello of 
Milan, the Castelletto of Genoa, and a few other fortresses were 
the sole remains of Louis XII.'s once vast possessions in Italy. 
Massimiliano Sforza, whom the inhabitants of the Milanese 
hailed on all sides as their Duke, was at this time a youth of 
nineteen. So long as Bianca Maria Sforza lived he and his 
brother Francesco had found a home at Innsbruck. Her death 
in 1510 deprived the two young Sforza of the sole relative who 
was in a position to shelter them. The Emperor thereupon 
transferred them to the care of his daughter, Margaret of 
Austria, and Massimiliano's abode for the last two years had 
been the Court of the Netherlands, where Margaret acted as 
Regent for her nephew, Charles. A youth spent in exile had 
not been beneficial in its effect upon Massimiliano's character. 
Intellectually the promises of Infancy had not been fulfilled. 
The son of II Moro and of Beatrice, who at the age of five had 
recited ^Esop's Fables " with such pleasure and eloquence as 
cannot be described," could now barely write a letter. " I have 
written this with my own hand, because I cannot trust any one 
else. Your Highness must pardon me if it is badly written, for 
they did not teach me better at school." 1 This extract from 
1 Beltrami, L., Castello di Milano, p. 548. 


Castelh S/orstseo, Milan 


a letter to Ms brother Francesco is typical of Massimiliano's 
genera! attitude towards life. Far from strengthening a feeble 
nature, adversity seemed to have supplied Massimiliano with 
an excuse for weakness, of which he constantly availed himself. 
His " feeble forces/ 3 his want of means, his unhappy circum- 
stances, formed his constant theme, and they appeared in his 
eyes quite sufficient to account for the somewhat ignoble part 
which he played in the affairs of Milan. With a weak disposi- 
tion went a certain restless energy which contemporaries held 
to be inherited from his mother. " The Duke is never still, he 
does not sleep at night, he is always in motion even when he 
is doing nothing," wrote Mario Equicola when he was in Milan 
with Isabella Gonzaga. 1 As a result of this mercurial tempera- 
ment, Massimiliano possessed the power of rising to the occa- 
sion in the face of danger. Yet for the most part he was 
content to be the sport of circumstances, to cling to those who 
showed him kindness, to spend money when he had it, and to 
beg for it when he had none. To make himself, in short, as 
comfortable as might be amid the uncertain conditions in 
which an unkind fate had placed him. Such was the youth 
who was now called upon to ascend the throne of Milan under 
circumstances before which many a stronger character than 
Massimiliano Sforza might be expected to succumb. 

In his anxiety to wrest Milan from the entire control of 
the Swiss, the Emperor had at first put forward his grandson, 
Charles of Austria, as a candidate for the Duchy. The Italian 
States, however, preferred a weak native dynasty to a Duke 
who would strengthen the position of the Emperor in Lom- 
bardy, while it soon became clear that the Milanese themselves 
would accept none other than a Sforza lord. An embassy from 
Milan to Innsbruck in August, 1512, revealed to the Emperor 
the extraordinary impatience with which Massimiliano's advent 
was expected. The ambassadors were instructed to inform 
Sforza that, c if it were possible, Milan and the subject-cities 
would rise from their deepest foundations to go to meet him ". 
The inhabitants would " bear his person on their shoulders 
Germany to his most happy realm ". The desire which 
1 Santoro, D,, Vita di Mario Bquicola, Chieti, 1906, p. 273. 


every one had to see him made an hour seem like a thousand 
years. 1 In the face of such enthusiasm the Emperor must 
needs allow his young kinsman to set out for Italy. At the 
end of October Massimiliano at length crossed the Brenner to 
make his way to Mantua where he was eagerly welcomed by 
his aunt, Isabella Gonzaga, Isabella had exerted herself to 
smooth the way for her nephew's coming; and she was now 
prepared to throw herself whole-heartedly into his cause. It 
was something of a disappointment to her to find that Massi- 
miliano had become " entirely German in his food and in his 
clothes". 3 Moreover, the chief effect of his upbringing had 
been to inspire him with the greatest respect for the Empire, 
which now showed itself in his refusal to enter Milan except 
under imperial auspices. Matthias Lang, Bishop of Gurk, who 
represented the Emperor in Italy, was in Rome. Hence, in 
spite of the efforts of the Swiss to set Massimiliano on his 
throne unaided, the ceremony of entry was postponed until 
Langfs return. Not until 2gth December did the new Duke 
ride to the Porta Ticinese escorted by the Bishop of Gurk and 
by Raymond de Cardona, Viceroy of Naples. Here Massi- 
miliano was welcomed by Schinner and a company of Swiss, 
with the result that quarrels began between the Viceroy and 
the two prelates before the Duke so much as entered Milan. 
Massimiliano had to don the ducal mantle in the ancient church 
of S. Eustorgio, outside the gate. The difficulty as to who 
should invest him with it was only terminated by Sforza him- 
self thro wing the cloak over his shoulders. This accomplished, 
a fresh contest arose over the presentation of the keys of 
Milan. Here, in spite of Massimiliano's decision for the im- 
perial representative, the Swiss gained the day by threatening 
to withdraw their protection if this symbol of their power 
were denied to them. Massimiliano received the keys from 
Schinner J s hands with an expression of gratitude for all that 
the Swiss had done for him. Then, at last, he was free to 
enter his capital The way to the Duomo was made gay 
with triumphal arches, while at the Court of Arengo a youth 

1 Kohler, op. at. 

* Luzio, A., Isabella d'Este e la Corte Sforze$w, Arqh, Stor. I*ontf)., 1901, 


dressed as Fortune announced that he would atone for Ms 
long desertion of the House of Sforza by smiling upon the reign 
of Massimiliano. Unfortunately the effect of his prophecy was 
marred by torrents of rain which fell throughout the day, and 
by the ominous firing of the French garrison who still held the 

Thus, under the auspices of the Holy League, Massimiliano 
Sforza mounted the throne of his ancestors. The Holy League, 
however, was composed of various elements, each of which 
endeavoured to sway the destinies of Milan in a different 
direction. If Massimiliano had been a strong man he might 
perhaps have used the opportunity to play off the several 
members of the League against each other. Being what he 
was, his accession left the question as to who should be the 
true ruler of Milan still unsolved. In less than a month after 
the expulsion of the French, quarrels arose between the two 
Powers, before which La Palice had fled. The Swiss, with their 
usual greed for money, sought to wring from Venice all the 
subsidies which had been promised to them by the Holy 
League, while Venice, who had already paid more than her 
share, declined to make further sacrifices. Relations between 
them became still more strained over the affair of some 
Florentine soldiers who were plundered by the Venetians, 
regardless of the safe-conduct which they had obtained from 
Schinner. Behind these petty quarrels lay a serious difficulty 
as to the possession of Cremona and the Ghiarad'adda, While 
Venice clung to her old dream of a frontier that extended to 
the Adda, Schinner would not allow this dream to be realised 
at the cost of the integrity of the Duchy. Hence, by the end 
of July the Venetian forces separated from the Swiss and 
departed to vent their wrath upon the French garrisons in 
Brescia and Bergamo. Meanwhile the possession of Parma 
and Piacenza was the cause of friction between the Pope and 
Milan. In January, 1513, Massimiliano acted upon the invita- 
tion of certain nobles to occupy the two cities. Yet the Pope 
refused to confirm him in possession of them, while he spent 
all his energies in the attempt to draw the Emperor into the 
JrJoly League, Maximilian refused to come in until Venice 


had recognised his rights over Verona and Vlcenza and the 
negotiations seemed likely to drag on interminably. Hence 
the Duke of Milan complained bitterly of the want of consider- 
ation which the Pope showed In " postponing our affairs until 
a settlement can be made with regard to the affairs of His 
Imperial Majesty and the Venetians". He also blamed the 
Pope for the want of respect which his envoys showed towards 
the Swiss, while he even accused him of leanings towards 
France. 1 In the midst of these discussions Julius II. died 
(2Oth February, 1513). The end came before the fate of 
Parma and Piacenza had been settled, yet not before the Pope 
had resolved to sacrifice Venice to the Emperor by proclaim- 
ing Verona and Vlcenza to be the property of Maximilian. 
With her claims to Cremona denied and her possession of 
Verona and Vicenza threatened, Venice had nothing to gain 
by further adherence to the Holy League. Once more she 
turned to Louis XII., with whom negotiations were opened by 
Bartolommeo d'Alviano and Andrea Gritti, both of whom 
had been sent to France as prisoners during the war. In March, 
1513? the transition was made. Maximilian entered the Holy 
League while Louis XII. prepared for a fresh Invasion of 
Italy, knowing that he could again reckon upon the support 
of the Venetian Republic. 

The news of the French invasion could not but cause grave 
alarm to the friends of Masslmiliano Sforza. In the face of this 
danger the weakness of the Holy League was revealed to the 
full. The Emperor was as usual trying to pose as the arbiter 
of Italy without an armed force at his back, and thus effective 
aid was not to be looked for from that quarter. The new 
Pope, Leo X., followed the policy of his predecessor so far as 
to provide some 40,000 crowns for the campaign against 
France, but he was not prepared to take an active part 
In the struggle. Even Cardona turned a deaf ear to Massi- 
millano's appeals for aid, and refused to allow his troops to 
cross the Po. The reason for this lukewarmness In Sforza's 
cause lay in the negotiations between Louis XI L and the 

1 Archivio di Stato di Milano, Dominio Sforzesco, Signoria >wc(i 
miliano, ]Letter of i$th February, 1513. 


Swiss Government which continued throughout the spring of 
1513. AH parties expected that the Swiss would at the last 
moment come to terms with France. Thus the members of 
the League stood discreetly aloof, leaving Massimiliano at the 
mercy of his Swiss allies, who seemed more likely than not to 
turn against him. Within the Duchy the situation appeared 
no less desperate. " We cannot convey to Your Excellency a 
hundredth part of the extreme necessity, despair and misery 
of this district/' 1 wrote a captain from Caravaggio. From all 
sides came the same tale of scarcity of provisions, of general 
unrest and of profound discontent at the quartering of troops 
upon the inhabitants. On the western borders of the Duchy 
disaffection was rife. Some Milanese troops in the Lomellina, 
having arrested a man with a load of stolen grain, were sprang 
upon by a crowd of armed natives crying " France, France ". 
The soldiers escaped with difficulty into a neighbouring for- 
tress where they were besieged for eight hours by the insurgents s 
until the Milanese, fearing that the mob would force an entrance, 
yielded up their prisoner. 2 Meanwhile a certain Sacromoro 
Visconti skirmished and plundered round Alessandria in de- 
fiance of ducal pronouncements against him until he declared 
himself the champion of France by riding with his men to 
Asti. Under such circumstances the success of the French 
seemed assured. So certain were they of victory that Trivulzio 
sent an advance guard to Milan, which entered the city without 
any resistance from the inhabitants. 

In the hour of danger Massimiliano Sforza appeared at his 
best. Hearing that the French under Trivulzio and La Tre- 
mouille were moving upon Alessandria, he collected the few 
forces at his disposal in order to give them battle. Schinner, 
however, bade him wait for the arrival of the new army which 
was on its way from Switzerland. The Duke thereupon shut 
himself up in the Castello of Novara from whence the rumour 
spread that he was a prisoner in the hands of the Swiss. Far 
from this, his presence served to encourage the garrison, so that 
they contrived to repulse the French attack upon Novara and 

1 Archivio di Stato di Milano, loc. cit. Letter of 7th January, 1513. 
*Loc. cit. Letter of 28th April, 1513. 



to drive the enemy back upon the neighbouring village of 
Ariotta. Here, on 6th June, 10,000 Swiss descended upon the 
French camp to crush their enemies at one blow. The battle, 
according to Massimiliano's own account, "was with such 
loss and discomfiture to the enemy that nearly 12,000 
were killed. The rest were put to flight, the Swiss captains 
pursuing them together with us, leaving behind them all the 
artillery and provisions with infinite spoils." 1 Thus, on the 
same spot and against the same generals did the Swiss redeem 
the honour which they had lost thirteen years before. When 
the nation that betrayed Lodovico Sforza for French gold 
vindicated the cause of his son in order that the Swiss them- 
selves might control the destinies of Milan, the triumph of the 
progressive party among the Cantons was complete. 

With their victory at Ariotta the military prestige of the 
Swiss reached its highest point. Ever since 1494 the forces of 
France had seemed well-nigh invincible in Italy, and the fact 
that they had at last met their match was in itself enough to 
place their conquerors upon the pinnacle of glory . Massimiliano 
Sforza could not say enough to express his gratitude for the 
devotion with which the Swiss had upheld his cause. His 
former allegiance to the Emperor gave way before his entire 
confidence in the nation which had saved him from being sent 
once more upon his travels. From henceforth Schinner was 
the Duke's "adopted father," and the "Signori Helvetti" his 
greatest benefactors. Meanwhile Venice, as the ally of France, 
had sent Bartolommeo d'Alviano to attack Milan from the 
east The Venetians had already captured Cremona when 
the news of Ariotta stirred the other members of the League 
into action. In conjunction with some papal forces under 
Prospero Colonna, Cardona gradually drove Bartolommeo 
back until in October the campaign ended with the complete 
defeat of the Venetians at Vicenza. Not only in Italy but 
throughout Europe the Swiss figured as the arch-enemies of 
their former patron. In the first flush of victory they took 
advantage of Louis XIL's war with Henry VIII. and Maxi- 

a Avv. Ant. Rusconi, Massimiliano Sforza e la battaglia dell 1 Ariotta, 
Arch. Stor. Lomb., 1885. 


milian to Invade Burgundy and to lay siege to Dijon. La 
Tremouille, rather than face a possible conjunction of the Swiss 
with the English, agreed to buy their withdrawal with a treaty 
which pledged Louis XII. to renounce his rights upon Milan 
and to pay a heavy indemnity to the Cantons. Louis XII. 
expressed himself much displeased with his general's action 
and refused to ratify the treaty. Nevertheless, the Dijon 
episode scored an additional point for the Swiss, thus render- 
ing them confident of their power to defend Milan against all- 
comers. Throughout these vicissitudes the French garrison 
still held the Castello of Milan. When in August the city 
bells were rung in honour of Louis XII/s defeat by the English 
at Guinegate the French fired at the Campanile of the Duomo 
until they broke the bell. At length, on 2Oth October, a treaty 
was made by which the garrison agreed to surrender the Cas- 
tello within thirty days if no help came from France in the 
meantime. Louis XII. was not in a position to think of Milan, 
and in November Massimiliano Sforza was able to enter the 
fortress in which he had first seen light " Thus," says Prato, 
"our Duke, who at first merely sat upon the horse, now held the 
bridle. But the control of the spurs remained with the Swiss, 
who urged on or held back the horse at their pleasure." I 

Before Massimiliano crossed the Alps he concluded a 
treaty with the Cantons which determined the relations between 
the Swiss and Milan throughout his reign. This treaty con- 
sulted the interests of the Swiss both as mercenaries and as 
traders. The Cantons undertook to provide for the defence of 
Milan in return for an annual pension, in addition to the pay- 
ment which the troops would receive while on active service. 
At the same time Domodossola, Lugano and Locarno were 
added to the territories of the Confederation, and Swiss mer- 
chants were freed from tolls up to the gates of Milan. Few 
treaties, it has been said, offered greater possibilities for the 
economic and political development of Switzerland. 2 Never- 
theless, Milan had made great pecuniary sacrifices during the 
war, and to reap the full benefit of this commercial intercourse 

1 Cronaca Milanese. Arch. Stor. Ital,, vol. iii. 

2 Kohler, op, cit. 


the Swiss must forego their immediate claims for money in 
order that the Duchy might have time to recover its prosperity. 
Unfortunately the Swiss were not far-sighted enough to realise 
this necessity. "Point d* argent point de Suisses? Bayard had 
written, and his estimate was only too correct Schinner, in- 
deed, proved his superiority over the mass of his countrymen 
by advancing large sums out of his own pocket to satisfy their 
demand for money. Yet the majority were animated with the 
sole desire to wring the utmost from the over-burdened in- 
habitants, who discovered to their despair that they had rid 
themselves of a single tyrant to fall into the hands of many. 

Far from lessening the financial embarrassments of the 
Duchy, Massimiliano added to them by his personal extra- 
vagance. Childish memories of his father's Court had doubt- 
less made the Duke look upon Milan as the home of splendour, 
and now that he was in possession of his inheritance, he re- 
solved to enjoy himself at all costs. The picture which Mario 
Equicola 1 gives of the Court of Milan during the summer of 
1514, ill befits the gravity of the political situation. Masked 
balls and banquets formed the daily occupation of the Court. 
The dresses and the flirtations of the courtiers were primary 
objects of consideration. Among this frivolous throng the 
young Duke of Bari was alone distinguished by his serious 
disposition and by a bearing which was pronounced to be 
quite ecclesiastical in its gravity. Prato bemoans the time 
and money which were wasted over frivolities during Isabella 
Gonzaga's visits to Milan. Even more inexcusable is the item 
of 30,000 ducats for " the Duke's wardrobe/' which appears in 
the list of State expenses for the year. Massimiliano's lavish 
gifts to his supporters constituted a further drain upon the re- 
sources of Milan. Schinner received Vigevano, while Girolamo 
Morone, who had played a prominent part in the Sforza 
restoration, was rewarded with Lecco. Lang and Cardona 
divided between them the revenues of the Park of Pavia. The 
gardens of the Castello of Milan were given away even before 
they fell into the Duke's hands. The loss of income which 
this excessive generosity entailed must needs be met with fresh 
1 Santoro, op. a*., pp. 257-73. 


taxes. After the battle of Ariotta the revenues were fore- 
stalled for two years In order to satisfy the claims of the Swiss. 
Forced loans were exacted upon a large scale, while a new duty 
was imposed upon every mill-wheel and upon every rod of land 
that benefited by the waterways of the Duchy. Still more 
burdensome was the increased salt tax for which Massimiliano 
obtained special leave from the Pope, in order that he might 
not bear the sole blame for an unpopular measure. Responsi- 
bility could not be thus easily shifted. Complaints against the 
Swiss and against Massimiliano were heard daily, and the reign 
of Louis XII came to be regarded as a time of comparative 
comfort. Conscious of his growing unpopularity, the Duke 
began to grow suspicious of every one who seemed more 
capable or more beloved than himself. Despite Morone's 
activity In the Sforza cause, there had never been perfect 
harmony between him and Massimiliano. Morone belonged 
to a distinguished Milanese family, his grandfather, Bartolomeo, 
having been one of the original Captains and Defenders of the 
Ambrosian Republic. In 1499 Girolamo had been singled out 
by Louis XII. for the post of Fiscal Advocate. With frank 
opportunism he acknowledged that he took office under the 
French in order to be "useful to many and harmful to none," 1 
and from the moment of Ottaviano Sforza's entry as Regent 
he had proved where his true sympathies lay. Yet it seemed 
that Massimiliano could not forget the years which Morone 
had spent in the service of France. Morone was excluded from 
the number of the new Ducal Councillors, and while his talents 
as a diplomatist were too valuable not to be used, the Duke 
Issued secret instructions that he was to be regarded "with 
diffidence".^ This want of confidence was naturally resented. 
Although no open rupture occurred, the dislike and mistrust 
with which Morone and his master regarded one another in- 
creased throughout the reign. Another prominent supporter 
to arouse the Duke's suspicions was Ottaviano Sforza, Bishop 
of Lodi, who was arrested on a charge of treachery In the 
summer of 1515, and ultimately banished. Ottavlano's in- 

1 Letter of November, 1499. 

2 Gioda, C,, Girolamo, Morone e i suoi tempi. Torino, 1887. 


nocence is by no means clear, yet it seems likely that his chief 
fault, in Massimiliano's eyes, lay in the popularity which he had 
won by his wise rule in Milan before the arrival of the Duke. 
Even his own brother excited Massimiliano's jealousy. It was 
soon realised in Milan that Francesco was by far the better man 
of the two, whereupon the Duke became possessed with the idea 
that Francesco wished to supplant him, and he took pains to 
employ him as much as possible away from the capital. Yet 
no attempt to suppress possible rivals could stem the tide that 
was gradually changing the love of Massimiliano's subjects 
into hatred. As early as July, 1514, contemporary opinion 
pronounced that if the smallest French force had appeared 
before Milan, all the city would have turned. 

In January, 1515, Francis I succeeded Louis XII. upon the 
throne of France. He, no less than his predecessor, was a direct 
descendant of Valentina Visconti, and he at once prepared to 
invade Italy in order to enforce his claims to the Duchy of 
Milan. Thereupon the miserable inhabitants were called upon 
to furnish 300,000 ducats in order that a fresh army might 
be collected for Massimiliano's defence. Exhausted by their 
previous sacrifices, the parochial organisations of Milan de- 
clared that payment was impossible. The city was soon in an 
uproar, shops were closed, and the Swiss were forced to seek 
refuge in the Castello. When a deputation to the Duke was 
imprisoned without audience, the citizens raised the banner of 
S. Ambrose and fortified the Court of Arengo as a centre of 
resistance. Under such conditions there was nothing for it but 
to yield. Massimiliano announced that the tax was withdrawn, 
while he consented to the election of twenty-four citizens to 
provide for the welfare of the Duchy. With their help a com- 
promise was made, by which the citizens agreed to furnish a 
considerable sum of money in return for privileges which they 
had long claimed in vain. In the first place the city obtained 
the right of electing the Vicar and Twelve of Provision, and all 
other municipal officers. One hundred and fifty deputies, 
appointed by the six gates, were to elect these officials, and 
the Vicar was always to be taken from the College of Juris- 
prudence, Thus the head of the municipality would hence- 


forth be both a native of Milan and a lawyer of some dis- 
tinction, while the Duke would be no longer able to give 
or sell 'public offices at his own discretion. For these privi- 
leges alone the citizens offered 50,000 ducats. At the same 
time the city bought the chief canals of the Duchy with the 
revenues pertaining to them, and with the obligation of 
keeping them navigable. Thirdly, Milan was promised 
an annual revenue from the grist and customs duties, with 
which to provide for the needs of the city. These three main 
concessions carried with them the reform of several smaller 
abuses. Thus, the pernicious practice of granting blank orders 
of arrest, known as letters di giustisia, to all public officers, was 
abolished. So, too, the right of weighing bread was restricted 
to the Vicar of Provision, while the fines imposed upon those 
convicted of fraud were given to the municipality. As a loaf in 
Milan stayed at the same price but varied in weight according 
to the cost of wheat, false measures abounded, and this new 
decree prevented considerable sums from going into the pockets 
of some ducal favourite, who might be appointed to the office 
of weighing. Finally, in order to prevent these newly bestowed 
powers from being used by the citizens against the despotism, 
the Duke was allowed to appoint a lieutenant to act as his re- 
presentative in all municipal proceedings. All these measures 
of reform were embodied in a ducal decree dated nth July, 
1 5 IS. 1 They are chiefly remarkable as showing the tenacity 
with which Milan clung to her old liberties, and the extent of 
the resources which enabled her to purchase them as privileges 
at such a time. Unfortunately, Massimiliano did not remain 
long enough on the throne for his reforms to bear fruit. In 
the changes which were to follow, the privileges of Milan were 
either entirely forfeited or so altered as to lose the greater part 
of their value. Nevertheless, such remnants of liberty as were 
afterwards embodied in the Constitutions of Charles V. sprang 
from the reforms instituted by Massimiliano Sforza in his last 
desperate attempt to preserve his hold upon Milan. 

In France military preparations went on apace until by the 

X C/. Verga, E., Ddle Concessioni fatte da Massimiliano Sforza alia Cittd, 
di Milano, Arch, Stor, Lomb., 1894, 


beginning of August a brilliant army was ready to cross the 
Alps. At its head came the young monarch, then at the 
age of twenty, eager to avenge the honour of France by 
a glorious campaign in Italy. He was accompanied by 
almost all the French captains of note, by the very flower 
of his forces. Among the number were Trivulzio, La Palice, 
Lautrec all three experienced in Italian warfare the Con- 
stable Bourbon, the Chevalier Bayard and Pedro Navarra, the 
Spanish general of artillery, who, since his capture at the battle 
of Ravenna, had transferred his services to the French King. 
Against this formidable array Massimiliano's chances of suc- 
cess were small. All the difficulties and weaknesses which 
hampered his cause in 1513 were present in an intensified 
form. The gravity of the situation may be gauged by the 
attitude of Isabella Gonzaga, who had taken upon herself the 
task of finding a bride for her nephew. The Duke's cousin, 
Bona Sforza, and his former patroness, Margaret of Austria, 
were among the proposals, and now negotiations were in train 
for an alliance between Massimiliano and Giovanna, the widow 
of King Ferrantino of Naples. Yet Isabella realised that a 
wife would be no advantage to her nephew if he no longer 
possessed a State. In June she wrote to Giovanna's mother, 
begging her to consider her daughter's position C should it fare 
ill with the Duke of Milan," and advising her to wait for a few 
months until the effect of the French invasion could be seen. 1 
Massimiliano had, indeed, the nominal support of the Holy 
League, which was revived by Leo X. in July. Yet the Pope 
seized the opportunity to obtain from the Duke of Milan a 
final surrender of his rights over Parma and Piacenza, and the 
papal forces confined their activity to the defence of these 
towns. Cardona planted the Spanish troops near Verona in 
order to keep the Venetians at bay. Thus it fell once more to 
the Swiss to take the offensive in conjunction with a small 
Milanese force under Prospero Colonna. On the eve of the 
struggle Francis I. was lucky enough to obtain possession of 
Genoa. Infhe old days the Sforza Government in Genoa had 

1 Luzio, A., Isabella tfEste ne> primer di del pafato di Leone X. Arch. Stor. 
Lomb., 1906, 


rested mainly upon the Adorm, and Masslmlllano now made a 
rash attempt to restore them to power, with the result that the 
Doge, Ottaviano Fregoso, offered the city to France. Hence 
the Swiss began operations by an attack on Genoa, in the hope 
that they might deprive the enemy of this valuable basis. On 
the news that the French were approaching, the Swiss allowed 
themselves to be bought off by Genoa, from xvhence they 
hurried to Susa in order to attack the French army as it 
descended from the Alps. 

Francis I. was expected to enter Piedmont either by the 
Mont Cenis or by the Mont Genevre, both well-known passes, 
and both of which could be guarded from Susa. Thus, when 
the French came, under Trivulzio's guidance by the unfrequented 
Col dArgentiere, the Swiss were taken completely by surprise. 
Before they had recovered themselves, the French had routed 
the Milanese forces at Villafranca and were pressing on to- 
wards the capital. The position of the Swiss at Susa was thus 
turned. All they could do was to retire upon Milan, in the 
hope that they might face the French on the Lombard plain, 
in conjunction with their Papal and Spanish allies. These, 
however, were not forthcoming. " It is the custom of present- 
day Popes," wrote Prato, " always to be on the winning side." 
Leo X., suspecting that Francis I. might prove victorious, or- 
dered his troops to remain at Piacenza, while Cardona with- 
drew from Verona, leaving the Venetians free to join their 
allies. Meanwhile the French were making every effort to 
bribe the Swiss into neutrality. A Council of War was held in 
Milan, which went so far as to discuss terms of peace, but, 
thanks to Schinner, it was decided to march out and attack the 
enemy in the open field. For some days the French had been 
encamped at Marignano, a few miles south of Milan. Here, 
two hours before sunset on I4th September, the great conflict 
began. The Swiss trusted to the weight of their infantry to 
break through the French ranks, as they had done at Novara. 
The charge was made, but the French were better prepared for 
the onslaught, and a desperate fight ensued at close quarters in 
the gathering darkness. At length, overcome by weariness, the 
two armies lay down to sleep side by side, only to renew the 


struggle with the first break of dawn. It was a battle not of 
men but of giants, Trivulzlo declared, compared with which his 
eighteen previous conflicts were but child's play. The French 
were beginning to yield when the arrival of the Venetians, under 
Alvlano, turned the tide in their favour. At the same time 
Trivulzlo threw the Swiss ranks into confusion by flooding the 
meadows In which they fought. Victory lay with the mon- 
archy and the prestige of the republican army was shattered 
at one blow. Heavy losses were Incurred on both sides. 
There was scarcely a noble family in France that did not 
suffer, and the Swiss retired upon Milan leaving some 10,000 
of their comrades dead on the field. The worthy shop- 
keeper, Burigozzo, 1 describes in his chronicle how through- 
out the day "the poor Swiss" came straggling into Milan, 
dripping wet up to their waists with the rest of their bodies 
covered In dust and looking for all the world as if they had 
been ten years In battle. Thereupon the kindly citizens stood 
at their doors with food and wine with which " to lighten the 
hearts of these poor men ". 

All this time the Duke of Milan was riding high upon the 
tide of popular favour. Since the disturbances of the summer 
he had thrown himself unreservedly upon the people, promising 
that they should keep the keys of the city, and that from hence- 
forth the burdens of State should fall upon the nobility alone. 
When Trivulzio made an attempt upon Milan a few days before 
the final conflict, the populace rose in defence of their Duke. 
Companies were formed In the several gates, to muster daily 
upon the Piazza of the Castello. People suspected of French 
leanings were massacred. The bells of the Duomo and the 
Broletto rang continually. Massimiliano Sforza and liberty 
were the popular cries of the hour. With the news of Marlg- 
nano, however, Massimtliano's triumph came to an abrupt end. 
He withdrew with Morone into the Castello, while Schinner 
hurried off to Germany, taking with him Francesco Sforza, in 
order that this last hope of the family should be preserved 
from the clutches of France. Two days after the battle Pedro 
Navarra entered to begin the siege of the Castello, Well sup- 

1 Qfonaca Milanese. Arch, Stor., ItaL, vol. HI 


plied with food and ammunition, the fortress could have re- 
sisted for several months. Yet Masslmiliano had little hope of 
relief, and he was advised to surrender in order to obtain good 
terms for himself and his supporters. Eventually Morone and 
Bourbon drafted a treaty by which Masslmiliano renounced all 
rights to the Duchy and agreed to retire to France, In return 
for an annual pension of 36,000 crowns. Morone was allowed 
to retain Lecco, and was promised a seat In the Milanese 
Senate, while various other Sforzeschi received gifts and pen- 
sions. The French King further promised to procure a Cardinal's 
hat for the ex-Duke. On 6th October the treaty was signed, 
and before leaving Italy Masslmiliano visited Francis I. at 
Pavia. The description of this interview, given In a letter 
written from Milan on I2th October, is so characteristic that It 
Is worth quoting in full : " The King, having returned from 
hunting, was sitting in the room where his supper was spread, 
when the Duke was brought to him by the Grand Constable. 
As they entered the room His Majesty lifted his cap from his 
head, and, rising to his feet, embraced the Duke. In the course 
of his conversation with the King, the Duke intimated that he 
had decided to become an ecclesiastic in order to take from His 
Majesty all suspicion that he should ever think again of the 
Duchy of Milan. Moreover, he thanked God for having taken 
him from out of bondage to peasants to make him the subject 
of so noble a King as His Majesty, whom he only begged to be 
as scrupulous in the observance of his promises as he himself 
would be with regard to his oath plighted to the King. His 
Majesty replied, with other friendly words : * Sir, you need 
have no fear that I will fail you. But I am surprised that you 
have decided to be an ecclesiastic. If you desire it, I will find 
you a wife and make some honourable and good match for you/ 
The Duke stayed with the King about half an hour and then 
took leave. When the King departed, he stayed at Pavia in 
the Castello for about six days and then set out for France, 
escorted by a Frenchman called Mortemala " l (sic). 

So ended the public career of Massimiliano Sforza, at which 
no one rejoiced more heartily than himself. Character and 
1 British Museum, Harkian MS, 3462, pp. 193 seq. 


circumstances had combined to render his position in Milan 
well-nigh intolerable. A mere dummy in the hands -of the 
Swiss, he nevertheless had to bear the brunt of their unpopu- 
larity and to watch his gradual decline in the affections of his 
subjects. Even during the last burst of enthusiasm in his favour, 
he must perforce have been wondering how to satisfy the de- 
mands of the Swiss should they return victorious from Marig- 
nano. When he bade farewell to Italy he congratulated himself 
that he was at last free "from the domination of the Swiss, the 
frauds of the Spaniards, and the vexations of the Emperor' 7 . 1 
Massimiliano's life in France was far more congenial to him 
than the arduous work of government It is true that he ob- 
tained neither the Cardinal's hat nor the wife that he had been 
promised. Yet he was free to follow the Court from one pleasant 
city to another, and his worst trouble was a certain amount of 
difficulty in getting his pension paid. Milan heard little more 
of her ex-Duke until, one day in the summer of 1530, the citizens 
were told to close their shops while Masses were said for the 
repose of the soul of Massimiliano Sforza, who had died in Paris 
on 25th May. With the battle of Marignano the Swiss Con- 
federation ceased to act as an independent power in the affairs 
of Italy. In the spring of 1516 Schinner organised an abortive 
attack on Milan in conjunction with the Emperor Maximilian. 
Large numbers of Swiss had, however, been bought by the 
French King, and Maximilian, fearing that his allies would turn 
traitors, soon left them without a leader. Thereupon the 
Cantons came to terms with France in the Eternal Peace of 
Fribourg. Domodossola became once more Italian, but the 
Swiss retained Bellinzona, part of Lake Lugano and the Lo- 
carno end of Lake Maggiore. Their allies of the Grison League 
received Chiavenna and the Val Tellina up to Bormio, which 
they have since lost. But for this exception the Peace of Fri- 
bourg fixed the frontiers between Switzerland and the Milanese 
down to the present day. It also made permanent the system 
of bribes and pensions which bound the Swiss mercenaries to 
the service of France. The attempt of the progressive party 
to throw off the yoke of servitude had failed. During their 
1 Rosimjii, voL iii., p. 408, 


career in Milan the Swiss had been found wanting, both In the 
arts of peace and in the military organisation which had for a 
time seemed invincible. Henceforth they figure in European 
history as the loyal servants of the French Crown. Swiss 
merchants and tradesmen still abound in Milan, but the hope 
of including the Duchy within the boundaries of Switzerland 
vanished with the fall of Massimiliano Sforza. 




ON nth October, 1515, Francis I. entered Milan by the 
Porta Ticinese, clad in a suit of sky-blue velvet em- 
broidered with golden lilies. The usual ceremonies were per- 
formed in the Duomo and all possible preparations were made 
to do honour to the new ruler of Milan. Nevertheless, the 
citizens must needs have welcomed the French King with 
heavy hearts, All the sacrifices which they had made to pre- 
serve the native dynasty had proved unavailing, and Milan was 
once more in the position which she had held three years 
earlier, save for a new tax of some hundred thousand ducats 
which Francis I. imposed to pay for the expenses of his 
campaign. Long experience made the citizens place small 
faith in the promises that there should be no such taxation 
in the future, and their scepticism was speedily justified. In 
the following year, forced loans to the extent of 200,000 
ducats were raised to pay for the Peace of Fribourg. There 
seemed no limit to the burdens which Milan might be called 
upon to bear, and Prato gives expression to the general sense 
of despair when he exclaims: "Our rulers go from bad to 
worse, hence we must pray God to give Francis I. a long life". 
In spite of the gloomy outlook, the inhabitants of Milan, 
with characteristic long-suffering and courage, prepared to make 
the best of the situation. . Petitions were at once addressed 
to Francis I. which aimed at limiting the authority of the 
Lieutenant-General, at remedying some of the most flagrant 
abuses in civil and criminal jurisdiction and at preserving the 
liberties which the city had recently obtained from Massimi- 


liano. The French King's answers were only partially favour- 
able to the popular cause. Apparently the full sum had not 
been paid to the late Duke for his sale of the canals, for the 
citizens asked that they might be granted to the community 
without reference to the recent transaction. Their request was 
refused, and the canals passed once more under royal control. 
On the occupation of Milan by the French, Bourbon had been 
appointed Regent, and he had endeavoured to court popularity 
by granting the taxes on grist and wine to the community. 
Francis I. refused to recognise Bourbon's power to dispose 
of the taxes, yet he respected the claims of the city so far 
as to grant an annual revenue of 10,000 ducats, half of which 
was to be spent on the formation of a new canal while the re- 
mainder could be employed by the Vicar and Twelve, assisted 
by a special committee, for the general needs of Milan. With 
regard to the election of the Vicar and Twelve and other 
municipal officials, Francis I. introduced a considerable modifi- 
cation into the reforms of July, 1515. Whereas it had been 
intended that a hundred and fifty elected deputies should ap- 
point to the municipal offices, they were now ordered to elect 
three times the number of candidates required, from which the 
Duke or his Lieutenant should make the final choice. From 
this time, moreover, the hundred and fifty deputies came to 
be regarded as a diminished form of the old Council of Nine 
Hundred. Massimiliano and his advisers had probably no such 
idea in their minds, and, indeed, the Council of Nine Hundred 
had twice been summoned during his reign. Yet the existence 
of two popularly elected bodies, each with the minimum of 
power, doubtless produced confusion in the mind of the foreigner. 
Hence the Hundred and Fifty and not the Nine Hundred were 
summoned to consult on the concessions of Francis I. A year 
or two later, the French Lieutenant-General, Lautrec, reduced 
the number of deputies to sixty. There is even a doubt whether 
they were elected at all or whether they were simply chosen by 
the Lieutenant. It is certain that during Lautrec's despotic 
rule, the Vicar and Twelve no longer held office for a year at a 
time, but at the will of the Lieutenant- General. This matter 
of the municipal offices was not finally settled until 1537, when 


Charles V. decreed that the Sixty should present the names of 
six doctors of the College of Jurisprudence, from whom the 
Duke should appoint his Lieutenant in the Tribunal of Pro- 
vision. Then the Ducal Lieutenant should become the Vicar 
of Provision for the following year without further election. 
Two of the Twelve were to be drawn from the College of 
Jurisprudence while the Duke chose the remaining ten from 
eighteen nobles elected by the Sixty. To this small permanent 
remnant were reduced reforms which had aimed at freeing 
municipal officers from the control of the despot. 1 

Meanwhile, from 1517, Milan was groaning under the harsh 
rule of Lautrec. A system which drove the richest and most 
influential citizens into exile, and which kept Milan in a ferment 
of discontent was probably far from the intentions of Francis I. 
Yet it was impossible for the French King to rule Milan person- 
ally, and he was thus obliged to stand or fall by the actions of 
his Lieutenant- General For a short time the Milanese gained 
an unexpected champion in the person of their old oppressor, 
Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, who ventured to oppose some arbi- 
tary taxation Instituted by Lautrec, Trivulzio, grown mild 
in his old age, and living In great magnificence in Milan, had 
won considerable popularity with his fellow-citizens. Hence 
Lautrec came to look upon him as a dangerous rival of whom 
It would be well to be rid. An attempt was made to prove that 
Trivulzio had plotted with the Swiss to procure the Independence 
of Lombardy, with the result that the old man of eighty was 
summoned to France In the dead of winter in order to answer 
the charges brought against him. Trivulzio had been but a 
short time in France when he fell dangerously ill and died in 
December, 1518. According to one version, it was not so much 
Lautrec as Galeazzo San Severmo who poisoned the French 
King's mind against him. San Severmo had supplanted 
Trivulzio In the affections of Francis L as formerly he had 
ousted him from II Moro's favour. Now, however, it was too 
late for Trivulzio to seek a new master. His death in exile and 
disgrace, if it seemed like a judgment upon one who had brought 

1 C/ Verga, E,, Arch. Stor, Lomb., 1894. 


much trouble upon Italy, accorded ill with the services which 
he had rendered to the French crown. 

When Masslmiliano Sfor2a came to terms with the French, 
room had been left for the inclusion of his brother Francesco in 
the treaty. He, however, had rejected all advances and had 
returned to his exile at Trent, until the time should come 
for him to try once more his fortune in Italy. In 1521 the 
opportunity arose with the beginning of the life-long rivalry 
between Charles V. and Francis I. Two years before, Charles 
V. had succeeded his grandfather Maximilian as Emperor, and 
Francis I., as the defeated candidate, was ready to wreak 
vengeance upon his rival. Of far greater importance with re- 
gard to Italy was the quarrel with France, which Charles V. 
inherited from his maternal grandfather, Ferdinand of Spain, 
Ever since Louis XII. had called In King Ferdinand to aid 
him in the conquest of Naples, the rulers of France and Spain 
had vied with each other for the control of the destinies of 
Italy. It was commonly reported that the French victory of 
Marignano finally decided Ferdinand not to leave the Spanish 
kingdom to his younger grandson, but to make Charles his sole 
heir in order that he might be strengthened for the inevitable 
conflict with Francis L Be that as it may, the defeat of the 
Swiss removed a factor from Italian warfare which had 
temporarily obscured its real issues. From the day of Marig- 
nano Lombardy was marked out as the battlefield between 
France and Spain, where Charles would endeavour to drive the 
French from Milan as Ferdinand had formerly driven them 
from Naples. Into this great European struggle the destinies 
of the last Sforza were woven. The tenacity with which Milan 
clung to a native lord made Francesco a valuable instrument in 
the hands of either party. Thus, profiting sometimes by the 
one, sometimes by the other, he was able, but for occasional 
intervals, to maintain himself upon the throne of Milan until 
his death. 

In March, 1521, war began with unofficial raids upon the 
Netherlands, on the part of the Lord of Bouillon and the Duke 
of Guelders. That same month an eagle was observed to 
perch upon the topmost turret of the Castello of Milan, where 



it remained for some time, flapping its wings and refusing to 
be dislodged by the missiles which were aimed at it by the 
French soldiers. At the end of June, a serious accident oc- 
curred in the Castello owing to the explosion of some gun- 
powder which brought Filarete's tower down in ruins, killing 
some soldiers in its fall and covering the Piazza d'Armi with 
debris. The accident was caused by lightning which set fire 
to some powder left carelessly about. Nevertheless, in the eyes 
of the Milanese, both this disaster and the episode of the eagle 
were clear auguries of the approaching defeat of the French at 
the hands of the Imperialists. Meanwhile Francesco Sforza 
had visited the Emperor and had gone away happy with 
Charles V/s assurance that he would restore him to the Duchy 
of Milan or lose the Imperial crown in the attempt. After 
much hesitation, Leo X. had decided that Charles was the 
least dangerous of the two rivals and the one whom the Papacy 
had better support. Hence, in May, 1521, Pope and Emperor 
entered into a league for the restoration of Sforza, with the 
further agreement that Parma and Piacenza should be recon- 
quered for the Papacy, and that Charles should take the family 
of Medici under his especial protection. The League found a 
warm supporter in Girolamo Morone, who had for long been 
the soul of all intrigues against French rule. When Morone 
discovered that Francis I. intended to employ him, not in 
Milan but in France, he promptly placed himself at the dis- 
posal of Francesco Sforza. In 1518 he joined the band of 
exiles at Trent, where he remained until the events of 1521 
ended his enforced- idleness. With other ardent Sforzeschi, 
he descended upon Reggio, from whence, he organised two 
abortive attempts on Milan during the summer of 1521, 
Lautrec retaliated by an attack on Reggio, and thereupon the 
League seized the opportunity to declare war. Both sides had 
previously engaged Swiss mercenaries, but the Cantons, unwill- 
ing to be employed against either France or the Empire, 
ordered their countrymen in both camps to withdraw. Thanks, 
however, to t the exertions of Cardinal Schinner, only those on 
the side of France obeyed. Lautrec, after a vain attempt to 
tiold the line of the Adda, was forced back upon Milan. Some 


ten days later, on igth November, the papal-Imperial army 
entered the capital In the name of Francesco Sforza. The fall 
of the French had come about so unexpectedly, that before 
they could recover from the shock all the chief towns of the 
Duchy had followed Milan's example. Leo X. rejoiced In 
the possession of Parma and Piacenza. Morone was made 
Governor of Milan, pending the arrival of Sforza. Pavia, Lodi f 
Como, Alessandria surrendered to the League, while the 
French held only a few fortresses. The Pope did not long 
enjoy his triumph, and his death, in December, was followed 
by the election of Charles V.'s tutor, Adrian, who resolved to 
maintain a strictly neutral attitude with regard to the war. 
Yet even the defection of the Papacy hardly checked the 
course of Imperialist success. Early in April, 1522, Francesco 
Sforza reached Italy to Inspire fresh courage and enthusiasm 
among his subjects. Accompanied by 5,000 German infantry, 
Francesco crossed the Brenner to Verona, and after a short 
halt at Mantua he at once proceeded to Pavia. Here he was 
received with open arms by the Marquis of Mantua, who, with 
the Spanish general Antonio de Leyva, was in charge of the 
town. The Milanese, however, declined to furnish money for 
the Imperial army until they had seen Sforza's face. Hence 
Prospero Colonna, the Captain-General of the League, came 
In person to conduct Francesco to his capital, which he entered 
"to such ringing of bells and firing of artillery as might have 
brought the world down in ruins "- 1 " It is impossible," writes 
Guicciardini, 2 " to describe the joy with which Francesco was 
received by the people of Milan." The memory of their 
former happiness under the rule of his father and grandfather, 
and their earnest desire to have a prince of their own, alike 
moved the citizens In Sforza's favour. Nobles, merchants and 
populace brought their money and even their jewels and silver 
to be used In his service. "Thus," says Gmmello, "the 
Imperial army was paid and every one was prepared to fight 
bravely against the French." 

Francesco Sforza's adherents had need of all their courage 

1 Grumello, Cronaca Pavesc (1467-1529). 
V$toria d'ltalia, book 14. 


at this juncture, as Lautrec had already arrived In the neigh- 
bourhood with a fresh army at his back and was boasting 
freely that he would soon be in Milan. On this occasion the 
French had succeeded in capturing the services of the Swiss, 
who were already clamouring for pay. Hence Lautrec deter- 
mined to force on a battle before the Swiss mercenaries began 
to fall away. On 27th April he marched out of Monza in the 
direction of the capital. At the villa of Bicocca Lautrec's 
army encountered the Imperialists to receive a crushing defeat 
at their hands. The victory was largely due to the Spanish 
infantry, which proved itself superior even to the Swiss, while 
6,000 Milanese citizens under Sforza's leadership also did 
good service. Nothing was now left to the French save 
the Castles of Milan and Cremona. Lautrec retired discom- 
fited to France while Colonna took advantage of his victory 
to drive the French from Genoa and to set up an Adorni 

The eighteen months following Bicocca were perhaps the 
most prosperous in Francesco Sforza's career. During that 
short interval no foreign army disputed his possession of the 
Duchy, and he was thus free to devote himself to its internal 
affairs. In May Francesco issued an edict for the reform of 
the Senate, which purged it of its foreign element and raised 
the numbers from fifteen to twenty-seven. Members of the 
ducal family became Senators of right, and this, with the in- 
crease in numbers, modified the Senate in the direction of the 
two Councils which it had replaced in 1499. Any such change 
was gratifying to the people, who had come to look upon the 
last century as a golden age. With a Sforza Duke to be gazed 
at daily in Milan and with the banners which he had helped 
to win at Bicocca hanging in the Duomo, it seemed as though at 
least a reflection of those good old times had returned. Mean- 
while Moron e exerted himself to render the city militia more 
efficient. Two nobles were chosen in each gate to keep a 
list of all capable of bearing arms, and to organise a company, 
headed by its own captain, in every parish, Morone obtained 
somewhat unexpected assistance from a popular preacher who 
was much in vogue in Milan at that time, A few years earlier 




Milan had been stirred by the words of a certain Girolamo da 
Siena, who had come to the city, wearing the roughest of gar- 
ments and eating only bread and water, to preach a crusade 
against luxury. Permission to preach was denied him by the 
Archbishop on the ground that he belonged to no clerical order. 
In spite of this he spoke to the people daily on the Piazza of 
the Duomo " with such eloquence that all Milan flocked to hear 
him "- 1 The idleness and vice of the clergy were the special 
objects of his denunciation. Hence some of the Friars accused 
him of being the secret enemy of France and of fostering sedi- 
tion among the people. He was examined by Trivulzio and 
succeeded in proving his innocence of all political intrigue. 
From this time, however, his hearers began to fall away, and 
soon after Girolamo left Milan. Now, in 1522, when an 
Augustinian friar, Andrea Barbato, began to exercise the same 
influence over the people and to promise everlasting bliss to 
any who should die in the defence of their rightful lord, 
Morone welcomed the preacher as a weapon in the hands of 
the existing government. Thanks to Barbato's eloquence, and 
to Morone's organisation, the city militia was stirred into un- 
wonted activity. The parochial bands materially assisted the" 
regular soldiers in their task of guarding Milan while the people 
complained of no hardship which would help to maintain 
Francesco on his throne and to check the expected French 

In April, 1523, the French garrison in the Castello of Milan 
surrendered after a fourteen months' siege. Charles V., with 
commendable moderation, at once placed the fortress in Fran- 
cesco Sforza's possession. His action did much to strengthen 
the imperial cause in Italy by making Charles appear as the 
champion of Italian liberty against French domination. As 
an immediate result of this policy Venice, who had most to 
gain from a weak ruler in Milan, renounced her French pro- 
clivities and joined in a League with Charles and Sforza for the 
defence of Lombardy. A month or two later, France received 
another blow owing to the breach between the Constable 
Bourbon and Francis I, The appearance of the sometime 

1 Prato, Cronaca Milanese. 


French governor of Milan as Lieutenant-General of the Em- 
peror in Italy heightened Charles's prestige and increased the 
confidence of imperial proteges such as Sforza. Just at this 
time, when fortune seemed to smile upon Duke Francesco, he 
narrowly escaped falling a victim to an assassin's dagger. One 
day in August Francesco was riding from Monza to Milan 
alone with Bonifazio Visconti, a member of his household. 
The guards who escorted them had been ordered to remain at a 
distance in order that the Duke might be free from the dust 
which they raised. Suddenly, at a bend in the road, Visconti 
seized his dagger and aimed a blow at Francesco's head. Owing 
to a movement on the part of his horse, Visconti missed his aim 
and the Duke was only slightly wounded in the shoulder. In 
three days 1 time Francesco had, to all appearances, recovered, 
yet it was commonly reported that the dagger was poisoned and 
that Francesco's ill-health in later years was due to this ac- 
cident. The motives which prompted this would-be assassin 
were purely personal Some coveted preferment had been 
denied to him and a near relative had lately been executed at 
Morone's order. In Milan the news was received with the 
greatest consternation, and the incident only served to increase 
Francesco's popularity. 

Bourbon's defection, although it delayed the French inva- 
sion, could not postpone it indefinitely, and in September, 1523, 
Admiral Bonnivet entered Italy. Milan was subjected to an 
eight weeks' siege, but, at the end of that time, the intense cold 
forced the invading army into winter quarters at Abbiategrasso. 
In the spring of 1524 the Imperialists succeeded in driving 
Bonnivet across the Sesia, from whence he retired ignominiously 
over the Alps. Francesco Sforza was apparently in a stronger 
position than ever. Nevertheless, the final decline of his cause 
and the ruin of Milan's already waning prosperity dates from 
this year. Francesco had himself taken part in the conflict 
which broke up the French camp at Abbiategrasso and had 
entered the town in triumph at the head of the Milanese contin- 
gent The victory, however, cost him dear. Abbiategrasso was 
infected with plague and Sforza's troops brought the disease back 
with them to Milan, where it raged throughout the summer. 


Burigozzo puts the number of deaths at 100,000, while Gramello 
says 80,000 " and more rather than less ". Milan became for the 
time a city of the dead. Her Duke withdrew to the fortress of 
Trezzo, the churches were empty, bells ceased to ring, and carts 
carrying the dead to burial were alone to be seen in the streets. 
When, with the approach of autumn, the plague grew less and 
the citizens began to resume their normal habits, they were 
greeted with the news that a French army was about to descend 
on Italy, led by Francis I. in person. Worn out as they were 
by all that they had gone through, the surviving inhabitants 
were prepared to rally in their Duke's defence. Both Francesco 
and Morone, however, saw that under the present conditions it 
would be madness to risk a siege. There was nothing for it but 
to yield to the times. Telling his people not to irritate the 
enemy, Francesco left Milan for Soncino on 3rd October. Just 
twenty days later Francis I. took peaceful possession of the 

During the summer of 1524 the Imperialists had made an 
unsuccessful attack on Marseilles, from whence they were obliged 
to hurry back to Italy on the news of the French King's coming. 
Thus Francis I. had contrived to catch the enemy at a disad- 
vantage. Pescara and Bourbon arrived too late to attempt to 
hold Milan, and they withdrew to Lodi with the main army, 
while Leyva prepared to defend Pavia. His troops, who were 
for the most part German, were already clamouring for pay. 
Hence when Francis I. laid siege to Pavia he reckoned upon a 
comparatively easy task. Opinion in Italy was confident of the 
French King's success, so much so that the Powers began to 
negotiate with France in order that they might not be wholly 
committed to the losing side. The new Pope, Clement VIL, 
who as a Medici was expected to adhere to the policy of Leo 
X., proposed a secret treaty with Francis, by which the Papacy 
and Florence pledged themselves to neutrality in exchange for 
French protection. Francis I. accepted gladly and received, in 
consequence, free passage through papal territory for the troops 
which he was sending to create a diversion on Naples. At the 
same time Giovanni dei Medici passed with his " Black Bands " 
from the service of the League to that of Francis. To the 


subjects of Francesco Sforza It was no small consolation that 
Giovanni lost the salary of "4,000 good ducats/' paid to him by 
their Duke, only to receive a wound In his heel which disabled 
him for the rest of the campaign. 

It was not long before the French discovered that they had 
reckoned too hastily upon victory. Lautrec's government had 
earned undying hatred from the people of Pavia, who threw 
themselves heart and soul into the defence of the town, treating 
the German soldiers like brothers and aiding them by every 
means In their power. After various attempts to take Pavia by 
assault, Francis I. was forced to resign himself to a tedious 
blockade which dragged on throughout the winter. Pescara, 
meanwhile, refused to be drawn off to Naples and determined to 
concentrate all efforts on the relief of Pavia. Yet even his 
inspiring influence could not keep unpaid and ill-fed troops 
Indefinitely in the field. It was decided at length to force on 
a battle by attacking the French camp in the Park of Mira- 
bello. On 24th February, Charles V.'s birthday, the famous 
conflict took place. That same evening Morone sent the fol- 
lowing letter to his wife at Crema : 

u BELOVED CONSORT, God of His great goodness has given 
us victory. The French are beaten and shattered. Thank God. 
Be of good cheer. No more." l 

It might well seem to the victorious Imperialists that Divine 
intervention alone could account for their triumph. Practically 
all the French generals of note were either killed or taken 
prisoner. Among those who perished were La Tr6mouille, La 
Palice and Bonnivet, all of whom had at one time or another 
played a prominent part in the fortunes of Milan. Here, too, II 
Moro's old friend, Galeazzo San Severino, met his death. Gallant 
to the last, he refused the proffered assistance of one who saw him 
fall, saying : " I have no more need of help, look to the King 
and leave me to die". Francis I. was taken prisoner by 
Lannoy, the Viceroy of Naples, who lodged him in the monastery 
of San Paolo, from whence he was removed in three days' time 
to the fortress of Pizzighettone, to await the imperial instruc- 

a Gioda, op, cit,, p. 225. 


tions. Meanwhile the shattered remnant of the French army 
hurried out of Italy, leaving Charles absolute master of th e 

From the point of view of Francesco Sforza, the victory of 
Pavia was only too complete. Although he was able to return 
in peace to Milan, the high price which Charles required for the 
investiture and the presence of the imperial forces in the city 
rendered Sforza Duke only in name. Francesco complained 
bitterly of his hard fate. It was difficult, he declared, to know 
which was greater, his happiness on recovering the Duchy of 
Milan or his misery since he had obtained possession of it 
To Girolamo Morone the situation was intolerable. His years 
of exile and of intrigue against the French government ; his 
efforts, since 1521, to restore some measure of prosperity and 
self-confidence to his unhappy countrymen ; the devotion which 
he had shown during the awful weeks of plague, when the 
citizens turned to him as their only hope ; all had been directed 
towards the one end of establishing the independence of Milan. 
Now, when success seemed assured, he saw the edifice upon 
which all his labours had been expended crumble beneath 
the heavy hand of the Emperor. Rather than submit, he 
resolved to take advantage of the general unsettlement to free 
Italy from imperial control, before Charles and Francis had 
come to terms. Morone found a sympathetic ally in Clement 
VIL, who, mindful of his recent intrigues, was thoroughly 
frightened at Charles V.'s triumph. Together they laid the 
foundations of a conspiracy which aimed at driving out the 
foreigner and at restoring the Five States of Italy to the 
position which they had enjoyed before 1494. The scheme 
had fair prospect of success. Venice proved no less sym- 
pathetic than the Papacy, while Louise of France, anxious 
to procure her son's release, despatched an ambassador u to 
work for the freedom of Italy ". A weak point lay in Fran- 
cesco Sforza, who, at that time, was lying dangerously ill in the 
Castello of Milan. His death was expected hourly, and in that 
event the Pope and the Venetians proposed to invite Massi- 
tniliano to return with a French army at his back. A some- 
what heated correspondence passed between Francesco and 


Massimiliano on the subject in the following year, 1 when the 
latter denied any attempt to make himself Duke of Milan. 
Yet it is clear from his letters that Massimiliano resented his 
younger brother's position as Duke, and that he would have 
welcomed an opportunity to regain his former prestige. What- 
ever was Massimiliano's attitude, Morone would have none 
of him. It would be better, he declared, for the Duchy to be 
ruled by Caesar than by Massimiliano, and he determined that 
the plot should stand or fall by Francesco. Another difficulty 
arose over the disposal of the Kingdom of Naples. While 
Sforza and Medici still remained for Milan and Florence, there 
was no obvious successor to the illegitimate line of Aragon. The 
candidate suggested for the vacant throne was no less a per- 
son than Charles V.'s general, Pescara. Although of Spanish 
origin, his family had become Italianised by long sojourn in 
the Kingdom of Naples, where they had been conspicuous for 
their loyalty to King Ferrante and his descendants. More- 
over, Pescara had grievances of his own against the Emperor. 
The true hero of Pavia, he had been deprived of the credit due 
to him by Lannoy, who arrived at the seat of war in time to 
share in the victory, having escaped the weary months of wait- 
ing when Pescara alone prevented the imperial troops from 
melting away. If Pescara could be drawn into the conspiracy, 
it would gain the military leader which it urgently needed. 
Hence it was decided that Morone should approach him on 
the subject, the Pope agreeing to invest him with Naples as 
the price of his services. Pescara apparently viewed these 
proposals with favour. After some hesitation, he professed 
himself satisfied with the theories elaborated in Rome, which 
pronounced the violation of his oath to the Emperor to be con- 
sistent with his honour, owing to the superior claims of the 
Pope upon his obedience. In October he summoned Morone 
to discuss the subject with him in the Castello of Novara. 
Here Morone laid bare the full extent of the conspiracy, for 
the benefit of Leyva, whom Pescara had hidden behind the 
arras. On leaving the fortress Morone was arrested in the 
name of the Emperor. Various explanations have been given 

1 C/. Appendix. 


of Pescara's conduct, but It seems clear that he was throughout 
loyal to Charles V. Since July he had kept his imperial 
master informed of everything that had passed between him 
and the conspirators, while he had only waited to take action 
until all the threads of the plot were in his hands. He now 
pleaded on behalf of the man whom he had betrayed, and, on 
his death in December, he left a special petition to Charles V. 
that Morone' s life should be spared. Charles was prepared to 
show mercy towards the chief conspirator if he could thereby 
render the luckless Sforza the scapegoat. Early in 1526 
, Morone obtained his pardon, to spend his remaining years in 
Imperial service. Opportunism, which he had followed as a 
principle, had In truth proved Morone' s bane. In spite of his 
abilities, no government had ever trusted him entirely. In 
spite of his labours for Milan, he was held to be the best hated 
man In the city. Now, at the end of his career, he surrendered 
his dearest aims in order to win an unenviable reputation in 
the service of the foreign Power that was fast robbing Italy of 
her independence. 

Although it may be assumed that Francesco Sforza knew 
and approved of the Morone conspiracy, his Illness obviously 
prevented him from playing a prominent part in it. He had 
not yet left his bed when an envoy came to announce that he 
was accused of treachery towards the Emperor, and to bid him 
yield the Castles of Milan and Cremona until he had proved 
his innocence. This Sforza refused to do and Imperialist 
troops thereupon laid siege to the Castello of Milan. Begin- 
ning in November, a gallant defence was maintained, until the 
new year brought some prospect of relief. In January, 1526, 
the Treaty of Madrid was signed, and Francis I. regained his 
liberty on conditions which he had from the first intended to 
repudiate. Four months later the Pope absolved Francis from 
his oath in order that he might join the League of Cognac, 
which aimed at driving the Imperialists from Italy. Henry 
VI I L became Protector of the League, the Pope, Venice, 
Florence and Sforza were among its members, while the relief 
of Milan formed the first item on its programme. On 7th 
July, the main army under the Duke of Urbino, was within 


five miles of the city, while Giovanni dei Medici actually went 
so far as to attack the Porta Romana. He was, however, 
repulsed and the Duke of Urbino, with ill-advised caution, 
postponed a fresh attempt until the 25th, when he hoped to be 
reinforced by the Swiss. On 24th July the raison d'etre of 
the attack on Milan disappeared with the capitulation of the 
Castello. For eight months the defence had been conducted 
with the utmost bravery. The women and children had been 
got out of the Castello by a stratagem. The besieging army 
had been harried by sorties, one of which led to the capture of 
fifty Germans who were exchanged for an equal number of 
cattle. The populace had aided the beleaguered garrison by 
every means in their power. Yet Francesco and his companions 
could not starve indefinitely. As it was, the Duke rode out of 
the Castello broken in health and looking as though nothing 
were left of him but skin and bone. According to the terms 
of the treaty, Sforza was given Como with a revenue of 30,000 
ducats, while the garrison and other of Francesco's supporters 
were protected by an indemnity. Yet the Spanish troops were 
not withdrawn from Como and Francesco ultimately joined 
the camp of the allies at Lodi, where he ratified the League of 
Cognac. Meanwhile the Duke of Urbino's forces were swelled 
by the arrival of 14,000 Swiss, in the pay of France. Although 
they were too late to save Milan, they were able to relieve 
Cremona, where the fortress was still held for Sforza. In 
September the League occupied the town, which became 
Francesco's head-quarters for the next few years. 

The years 1526-1529 are among the most miserable in 
Italian history, and no State suffered more cruelly than did 
the Duchy of Milan. Milan itself underwent no one terrible 
sack as did Rome, nor any great siege as did Florence. It was 
rather in a perpetual state of siege, always on the verge of 
starvation, a prey to the molestations of German and Spanish 
soldiers, until, at last, the foreign troops which poured through 
Lombardy passed it by as a place which had been already 
sucked dry and which it was not worth while to plunder. So 
long as their Duke held out in the Castello, the citizens made 
some show of resistance to the imperial army. In April, 1526, 


the death of a salt-merchant in the attempt to save his house 
from plunder, led to a popular rising which the Imperialists 
were quite unable to quell. Public buildings were sacked 
and prisons were burst open while Leyva barricaded himself 
in his lodgings In the Porta Comasina, expecting every moment 
that the mob would break in upon him. Order was eventually 
restored by some of the Milanese nobility, notably Pietro 
Pusterla and Francesco Visconti, who undertook to quiet the 
people with the promise that there should be no further taxa- 
tion nor quartering of soldiers upon the inhabitants. Terms 
thus granted in a moment of panic were not likely to be kept, 
and, indeed, Leyva had no way of providing for his troops, 
save at the expense of the Milanese. Hence In June the 
popular fury broke out anew. Once more the streets were 
barricaded, many parts of the city were in flames, and over a 
hundred soldiers fell in the frays which ensued. At length 
Leyva struck at the root of these disturbances by driving 
all the most ardent Sforzeschi into exile. Deprived of their 
leaders, the people were left at the mercy of the Imperial 
troops, and there was no injury or cruelty which they did not 
suffer at their hands. The cunning of the Spaniards in their 
search for plunder and the relentless way in which they forced 
the citizens to supply their wants, rendered the rough German 
troops mild in comparison. So much so that the German 
quarter of Milan earned the name of " Cuccagna," or land of 
plenty, to which the people were wont to fly from the miseries 
of " Spain " On the return of Bourbon from Madrid, towards 
the end of 1526, appeals were m^tde to him from the principal 
citizens to rid them of their oppressors. He replied that want 
of money was the sole obstacle, and that if Milan could produce 
a month's wages he would withdraw the army from the city. 
If he failed to keep his promise, Bourbon added, might he 
fall in the first encounter with the enemy. At great sacrifice 
the money was raised, yet it brought no further relief than 
the withdrawal of a few troops to the suburbs. Hence Bour- 
bon's death in May, 1527, as he scaled the walls of Rome, 
seemed in the eyes of Milan a judgment upon his want of 


So far as any one person was responsible for the troubles 
of Milan since the battle of Pavia, it was Clement VII. But 
for him both the Morone Conspiracy and the League of Cognac 
would have been impossible, and Francesco Sforza, his grievances 
forgotten, might have been reigning happily over the Duchy 
under imperial protection. France and England were ready 
enough to encourage the Italian States in their resistance to 
the Empire, yet their help had extended little beyond fair 
words. Charles V., on his side, made repeated efforts to come 
to terms with the Pope, and even at the end of 1526 he was 
prepared to make peace upon conditions which would restore 
Sforza to Milan after a nominal trial. Clement, however, 
continued to dally with France, while by means of his nuncios 
he enkindled the war-like ardour of the Italian princes, bidding 
them use the finest opportunity in the world for winning freedom 
and glory. Hence there is ironic justice in the idea that Bour- 
bon acted on Morone's advice when he resolved to march on 
Rome in order that the troops which had exhausted Milan 
might tap a fresh source of supplies in the papal city. In 
January, 1527, Bourbon started on his journey southward, 
joining Frundesberg and his Germans at Piacenza and leaving 
Leyva with a comparatively small force for the defence of 
Lombardy, The weakening of the Imperialists in Lombardy 
gave fresh zest to the actions of the League. Francesco Sforza 
and the Venetians prepared to attack the Milanese, while 
Francis I. at length exerted himself to send a French army 
under Lautrec across the Alps. Throughout the year 1527 
the cause of the League triumphed. Alessandria, Vigevano, 
Pa via were occupied by Lautrec, while the Influence of Andrea 
Doria transferred Genoa to the side of France. Leyva could 
only cling to Milan, where the citizens lived in daily expecta- 
tion of a French sack. So constant were the raids upon their 
goods and money, says Burigozzo, that as far as loss of property 
was concerned, the prospect of a sack presented no fresh terrors 
to the inhabitants. These temporary successes, however, did 
little to further the interests of Sforza. They only Involved 
fresh miseries for the conquered towns and fresh efforts on 
Leyva's part to raise food and money for his troops. Early 


in 1528 Lautrec set out for Naples, and his conquests melted 
away as rapidly as they had been made. 

For a year and a half more the weary warfare dragged on. 
The Duke of Brunswick entered Italy with a contingent of 
Germans, destined to reinforce the Imperialists in Naples. 
He remained in Lombardy to drive the garrisons of the League 
from a few fortresses and to eat up Leyva's scanty supplies, 
until the low fever which raged in Milan spread to his troops 
and forced him to retire to Germany. Meanwhile Lautrec 
died, and in August, 1528, the remnant of the French army in 
Neapolitan territory was forced to capitulate. Andrea Doria, 
moreover, went over with his fleet to the side of the Empire, 
on the condition that Genoa should be recognised as an in- 
dependent State. Thus the pressure on Naples relaxed both 
by land and sea and the French expedition, which had seemed 
likely to drive the Imperialists from Italy, collapsed, beaten 
and discredited. In the following year Francis I. made one 
last effort to avenge the honour of his nation by sending Saint 
Pol to Italy. Leyva, however, contrived to surprise the French 
at Landriano where, in June, 1529, a battle took place. With 
Saint Pol's defeat on this occasion ended the last serious 
attempt on the part of France to regain possession of Milan. 
After well-nigh eight years of fighting the struggle for the 
Duchy was decided in Charles V.'s favour. 

Even before the battle of Landriano, the Pope had entered 
upon negotiations with the Emperor, and on 2pth June, 1 529, 
the Peace of Barcelona was signed. The Sack of Rome and 
the general indignation which it excited might well have thrown 
Clement definitely into the arms of France. He had, however, 
at last realised that Charles and not Francis could best serve 
the objects nearest to his heart. The French King, as the 
traditional champion of Florentine liberty, could not aid in a 
Medicean restoration, nor could he recover the places claimed 
by the Papacy from his Venetian and Ferrarese allies. Thus 
Clement VII. agreed to invest Charles with Naples and to 
crown him as Emperor in return for the restoration of the 
Medici to Florence and of Sforza to Milan. Peace with France 
followed quickly on the treaty with Clement, and Charles was 


free to set out for Italy. Bologna was ultimately fixed upon 
as the scene of the coronation, and thither during November, 
1529, flocked not only the princes of Italy, but representatives 
from all parts of Charles's dominions. Francesco Sforza was 
among the number. Although Pope and Emperor had come 
to an understanding with regard to Milan, Sforza was not yet 
definitely included in the peace. Hence, despite the imperial 
safe-conduct with which he was furnished, it must have been 
with some trepidation that Francesco set out for Bologna. 
He found the political atmosphere more favourable to him 
than he could have ventured to hope, Charles had no wish 
to stir up fresh resistance in Italy by treating Milan as a 
conquered province, and a Sforza Duke under imperial pro- 
tection was a compromise in which all parties would acquiesce. 
Francesco's first act on reaching Bologna was to return his 
safe-conduct to Charles, saying that he had no need of further 
protection than that afforded by the Emperor's justice and his 
own innocence. Pleased with this sign of confidence, Charles 
received Sforza favourably, and the old charge of implication 
in the Morone conspiracy was allowed to drop. Meanwhile 
Francesco's ill-health evoked general sympathy, and only one 
person raised objections to his restoration. This was Antonio 
de Leyva, who had held Milan for the Emperor in the face of 
every disadvantage, and who had hoped to become at least 
Lieu tenant- General of the Duchy in reward for his services. 
Now the gouty hero was forced to sit in sullen silence, while 
Charles conversed affably with Sforza in German, a tongue 
which Leyva had not mastered. Eventually Leyva was 
appeased by the grant of Pavia for his life-time and of the 
fief of Monza for himself and his heirs in perpetuity. On 23rd 
December the treaty was signed. Francesco Sforza received 
the investiture of Milan at the price of 400,000 ducats, while 
he agreed to pay a further sum of 500,000 ducats within the 
next ten years. Thus all that Sforza gained by the League 
of Cognac, after four years of intermittent warfare, was the 
privilege of buying the investiture of Milan at a considerably 
higher price than had been agreed upon after the battle of 


The Duke of Milan remained in Bologna for two months 
longer in order that he might witness Charles's reception of 
the imperial crown from the reluctant hands of Clement VII. 
The ceremony took place on 24th February, 1530, the Em- 
peror's thirtieth birthday and the fifth anniversary of the battle 
of Pavia. Sforza had already sent Alessandro Bentivoglio to 
govern Milan in his name, and on the termination of the Con- 
gress at Bologna he returned to the Duchy which he could 
once more call his own. Time was when Milan had been 
deemed the richest State in Italy, famed for its prosperity in 
trade, for the high standard of comfort existing among its in- 
habitants, and for the splendour and gaiety of its festivals. 
Yet Francesco now returned to a barren heritage, the very 
antithesis of its former self. Robbers and vagabonds infested 
the roads, wolves roamed through the deserted villages, seeking 
the victims of disease and war which had become their accus- 
tomed food. Few shops remained open in the towns. Even 
the nobles who had once contributed to the brilliancy of the 
Court of Milan, went about poorly and shabbily dressed. 
Nevertheless, the inhabitants had still a welcome left for their 
Duke, who had freed them from the oppressions of foreign 
soldiers and who now replaced Spanish officials by " honest and 
experienced men " of their own nation. Francesco, on his side, 
did his best to restore some measure of order and comfort 
among his subjects. During the latter part of the Imperialist 
occupation, provisions had become practically a State mono- 
poly, and prices, which had been thus artificially raised, were 
difficult to reduce, when the disturbed state of the country pre- 
vented goods from being brought safely into Milan. Among 
Francesco's first reforms was the institution of a Captain of 
Police for the country districts, thanks to whom the roads of 
the Duchy became once more available for transit. The con- 
sequent fall in the prices at least mitigated the burden of the 
taxes, which Francesco had perforce to impose in order to pay 
his debt to the Emperor. In February, 1531, the whole sum 
of 400,000 ducats had been raised, and then, In accordance 
with his original agreement, the Emperor surrendered the Cas- 
tello of Milan to Sforza. Massimiliano Stampa entered upon 



his duties as Castellan and the last trace of the Imperialist 
occupation vanished with the Spanish garrison. 

Thirty-seven years had been needed for the poison, which 
had been instilled into the system of Milan in 1494, to work 
itself out. The process of expelling the evil had sapped the 
strength, both of the State and of the Sforza dynasty, beyond 
hope of recovery. During the few remaining years of her in- 
dependence, Milan enjoyed but a faint reflection of her past 
glories. The Castello Sforzesco became once more the centre 
of a Court, but at the head of that Court was a Duke who 
seemed an old man before he was forty and who, even if he 
lived, could not hope to be anything but an invalid. The 
Duchy was free from foreign armies, but its independence of 
the Empire was merely nominal and its financial exhaustion 
placed it at the mercy of every roving adventurer. 

Two events which occurred during Francesco's short reign 
revealed to the full the weakness of his position. A certain 
Gian Giacomo dei Medici I had profited by the war to make 
his own fortune at the expense of the Duchy of Milan. Ori- 
ginally Castellan of Musso for the League, he had become, by 
a skilful change of sides, the virtual ruler of the Lake of Como. 
From the Rocca di Musso near Menaggio, he dominated the 
western shores of the lake, while the possession of Lecco gave 
him control of its south-eastern branch. Now in 1531 he 
sought to extend his sphere of influence northwards by the 
occupation of Chiavenna. Sforza's attempt to dislodge him 
led to a war of some months' duration, the expenses of which 
made it necessary to revive the grist tax. Serious riots in 
Cremona ensued and the Duke could only buy peace on terms 
which ill suited his dignity, Gian Giacomo was rewarded for 
his evil doings by the grant of Marignano with the title of 
Marquis, while he yielded the fortresses which he had usurped 
for a compensation of 35,000 ducats. If the episode of the 
Castellan of Musso showed Francesco's powerlessness to deal 
with a rebel subject, the affair of Alberto Maraviglia revealed 
his entire subordination to the will of the Emperor. Mara- 

1 Gian Giacomo was the brother of Giovanni Angelo dei Medici, afterwards 
Pope Pius IV., and the uncle of Carlo Borromeo. 


viglia was a Milanese who had migrated to France during 
the reign of Louis XII. In 1526 he returned to Italy bringing 
with him a letter of introduction from Massimiliano Sforza 
who pronounced him to be "most desirous of serving our 
House "^ From that time Maraviglia remained with the Duke 
of Milan as the unofficial representative of the French King. 
When Francesco was restored to his inheritance, Maraviglia 
proposed, in the name of Francis I., that the Duke should 
marry a French princess. Francesco, although he welcomed 
an opportunity for coquetting with France and expressed him- 
self most grateful to the King, had perforce to decline the offer, 
saying that " in this matter of our marriage, the resolution to 
take this or that person depends upon the will of His Imperial 
Majesty ", 2 In spite of the secrecy which was preserved as to 
Maraviglia's true position, his presence in Milan did not long 
escape the vigilant eyes of Leyva. In 1533 he reported the 
matter to Charles V., who demanded explanations. Sforza 
thereupon resolved to justify himself before the Emperor at the 
expense of the unhappy envoy. A quarrel arose between Mara- 
viglia and a member of the Castiglione family which culminated 
in Castiglione' s death during a street skirmish. After a hurried 
trial Maraviglia was beheaded in prison, on the pretext of his 
concern in this illicit warfare. There is little doubt that the 
whole affair was arranged as a convenient means of disposing 
of the obnoxious French representative. To such miserable 
intrigues, characteristic of some petty Romagnol despot, was 
the last Sforza reduced in order to maintain himself upon his 
tottering throne. 

Charles V. meanwhile pursued a definite policy with regard 
to Milan. His chief object was to deprive Francis I. of a 
foothold in Italy by binding the various native rulers to the 
Empire by the closest ties possible. Hence in February, 1533, 
Sforza was included in the general League of Italian States, 
which Charles had exerted himself to procure. A few weeks 
later Milan was honoured with an imperial visit of four days' 

1 Archivio di Stato di Milano, Potenze Sovrans, Massimiliano Sforza, 
Vlcende personali, 3rd July, 1526. 

*Loc t cit.> Francesco //., 8th Oct., 1531. 


duration. The Castello was decorated for the occasion with 
Charles's motto Plus ultra y while the imperial eagles figured 
over the entrance. " As far as the Emperor was concerned," 
Burigozzo declares, " there was no great pomp, yet he was suit- 
ably dressed and he had a very pleasing expression." From 
this time, Charles V. scanned the list of his relations with a 
view to providing Francesco Sforza with a wife who would 
bring him into the Hapsburg family system. The candidate 
selected was Christina of Denmark, the Emperor's niece, and 
before Charles sailed from Genoa the marriage treaty had 
been drafted. Christina's dowry was fixed at 100,000 ducats. 
Moreover, in consideration of the expenses connected with the 
wedding, Francesco begged the Emperor to forego further 
payment of his debt His chief desire was to do His Majesty's 
will, but the revenues for 15 34 were already partly forestalled 
and therefore he implored him not to demand what was im- 
possible. 1 So great had been the sacrifices of his subjects, 
that Francesco even doubted whether suitable wedding gifts 
would be made to his bride. Hence deputies from the subject- 
towns were summoned to Milan in order that the Duke himself 
might persuade them to do their utmost on this occasion. 
Despite their impoverished condition, the towns responded 
loyally to Francesco's request. They determined to receive 
their future Duchess with every mark of honour if only to show 
"the love that they bore towards their Prince". Massimiliano 
Stampa had started for the Court of the Netherlands, where he 
was to wed Christina by proxy, in August, 1533. Yet it was 
not until 3rd May, 1535, tliat Francesco's bride made her entry 
into Milan. 2 Then, for the last time in the history of the Sforza, 
the familiar route from the Porta Ticinese to the Duomo was 
adorned with triumphal arches. Along it passed a splendid 
procession, headed by 200 of the Milanese aristocracy every 
one of them " looking like an Emperor," with his suit of white 
velvet and his waving plumes. Last of all came a baldac- 

1 Instructions to the Milanese ambassador, July, 1533 (Archivio di Stato 
di Milano, PoUme Sowane, Francesco II. , Vicende particolari). 

2 C/. Avenati, P,, Entrata di Cristina sposa di Francesco II, Duca di Milano. 
Milan, 1903. 


chino of white and gold, surrounded by the doctors of Milan, 
all eager to take their turn in holding it, while beneath the bal- 
dacchino rode the fifteen-year-old bride. Christina's blue dress 
matched the colour of her eyes and she seemed to the enthusi- 
astic spectators " more like a vision than a human being". The 
interior of the Duomo was also gorgeously decorated, so much 
so that " to enter it was like stepping into Paradise ". From 
thence Christina went to the Castello to join her husband, who 
had been watching from a private window the procession in 
which etiquette did not permit him to appear. For the rest of 
the day the citizens made merry after their own fashion, having 
obtained special permission from the Duke to remain in the 
streets until a late hour in the evening. 

Those who enjoyed the festivities of that May-day must 
have looked back upon them in after years as the last manifes- 
tation of the glories of the ducal regime. Francesco lived but 
eighteen months after his wedding. On 1st November, 1535, 
Milan awoke to the news that the last of the Sforza had died 
during the night, and that the feeble thread upon which hung 
the independence of the Duchy had broken beneath the strain. 
In a letter to Charles V., Christina said that her husband had 
been suffering for some days past " from debility in his limbs 
and especially in his hands, such as had troubled him before". 
Yet there was no reason to suppose that his life was in danger 
until three days before his death, when he was seized with fever, 
" in the course of which he passed yesterday evening to a better 
life ".* The sight of her invalid husband, who even at the time 
of his wedding could not stand without the aid of a stick, must 
have come as a shock to the girl-bride. Yet tradition relates that 
they loved one another dearly, and Christina now mourned her 
loss " with incredible bitterness and such effusion of tears as 
cannot be expressed ". 2 The letters of condolence which poured 
in from all parts of the Duchy leave no doubt as to the genuine 
affection which Francesco inspired among his subjects. His 
popularity was, indeed, partly due to the glamour which hung 

1 Archivio di Stato di Milano, Potenze Sovrans, Francesco //., Vicende fiarti- 


round the last Sforza Duke. Nevertheless, the scanty notices 
of his character which have survived, show that Francesco 
possessed considerable Intellectual qualities and some measure 
of personal charm. When Francesco went to Rome as his 
brother's ambassador, In 1513, he created quite an impression 
by the fluency of his Improvised Latin speeches. Four years 
later, one who saw him at Trent pronounced him to be a great 
contrast to his brother, in that he was "very literary, energetic 
and prudent". 1 During the first five years of his reign this 
energy and prudence were clearly visible, while, after the fatal 
siege of 1526, ill-heal this more than sufficient to account for any 
deterioration in his character. The citizens of Milan showed 
their grief at Francesco's death by making his funeral cere- 
monies more than usually lengthy. Hence It was not until 
1 9th November that the last Sforza Duke was laid to rest in 
the Duorno. High hopes had been centred in the possible Issue 
of the Danish marriage. Now that these hopes were shattered 
Charles V. reluctantly accepted Milan as a lapsed fief, while 
its ultimate destination remained for some years an unsolved 
problem. Had Francesco Sforza left an heir, the fate of the 
Duchy might have been very different. During the com- 
paratively peaceful years of the sixteenth century, Milan might 
well have experienced some such revival as did Florence under 
the later Medici. Yet no Cosimo arose to revive the fallen 
fortunes of the House of Sforza or to save Milan from the 
Inevitable loss of identity and independence which followed on 
her absorption into the vast Hapsburg inheritance. 

Perhaps chief among the many charms of Italian States 
from the historical point of view is the fact that they defy 
classification. No one despotism is exactly like another, either 
in the causes which produced it or in its subsequent develop- 
ment. How did the Sforza rule in Milan arise ? what were the 
bases of its authority ? what were the causes of its failure ? are 
questions which have already been touched upon incidentally 
in the course of these pages. Yet the philosophy of the 

1 Antonio de Beatis, Die Reise des Kardinals Luigi d'Arajrona, 1^1 
(ed. by Pastor, 1905). 


Sforza dynasty, If it may so be called, can best be realised 
when their rule in Milan Is viewed as a whole. 

Francesco Sforza's acquisition of Milan represents primarily 
the triumph of the condottiere, the victory of natural gifts and the 
power of the sword, unaided by a legal title or advantages 
of birth. Nevertheless, the State which he founded cannot 
be reckoned among those which had their origin in conquest. 
It is rather one of the many examples of despotisms which 
arose through the conversion of a Podesta or Captain from a 
servant of the Republic Into its ruler. The title of Captain- 
General, which the Ambroslan Republic bestowed upon Sforza 
In order to secure a defender against the Venetians, gave him 
his first hold upon the Duchy. Once having advanced so far, 
the throne of Milan formed the almost inevitable sequel. Be- 
sides this immediate cause, the Sforza owed their position In 
Milan to the fact that the conditions which produced the rule 
of the Visconti still prevailed. If there were doubt on the 
matter beforehand, the career of the Ambroslan Republic finally 
proved the need for an individual ruler In Milan. Only a 
prince could bring Milan and the subject-towns of the Duchy 
under one rule. Only a prince could over-ride the factions, 
which raged between Guelph and Ghlbelline, and the class 
hatred which pitted merchant against artisan. At the same 
time, the submission of Milan to Francesco Sforza was made 
immeasurably easier by his relationship with the Visconti. It 
was as Filippo Maria's son-in-law that he claimed the right to 
control the destinies of Milan. But for Bianca's presence, the 
impression of conquest would have been hard to remove, and 
Francesco's career in Milan might have proved as transitory as 
that of Carlo Gonzaga. 

Through the absence of any legal title, the hereditary claims 
of the Sforza were not such as to be pressed far. Hence, as 
they had no wish to lay stress upon the part which force had 
played in their rise to power, the Sforza Dukes based their 
authority chiefly upon popular consent. The desire to con- 
ciliate the people is plainly visible throughout the period. It 
can be seen In Francesco's Capitulations with the citizens, and 
again In Simonetta's remittance of taxes upon the accession of 


Gian Galeazzo. The pains spent upon the economic develop- 
ment of the Duchy, the foundation of churches and hospitals, 
the very magnificence of the Court sprang largely from the 
necessity of winning popularity as a guarantee for the perman- 
ency of the dynasty. Nevertheless, the Sforza in no sense 
identified themselves with the people. Their rule, at its best, 
was a beneficent despotism, which promoted the interests of 
its subjects without any attempt to obtain their participation. 
At its worst, it treated the people as so much material to be 
used in the ruler's interest Among the most characteristic 
features of the period is the gradual modification of the govern- 
ment in the direction of absolutism. Under Francesco and 
Galeazzo, the Ducal Councils were regarded as the monarchical 
features in the government which tended to encroach upon the 
older and more constitutional elements. Under Lodovico, 
the Ducal Councils were, In their turn, made to bow before the 
Secretaries of State, who were servants rather than advisers of 
the Duke. Equally characteristic are the constant efforts of 
the Dukes to exchange popular consent for a legal title, as the 
basis of their authority. Despite Francesco's emphatic recog- 
nition of his election by the people, he lost no opportunity for 
soliciting Imperial investiture. Galeazzo postponed the cere- 
mony of election until he had made sure that the imperial 
diploma was not forthcoming. Lodovico apologised profusely 
to Maximilian for his acceptance of the Duchy from the hands 
of the people, declaring that the exigencies of the moment 
alone prevented him from waiting to obtain imperial sanction. 
For all this, Lodovico proved in his own person the small 
practical value of imperial investiture when unaccompanied by 
the popular consent which he professed to despise. Moreover, 
if loss of popular favour helped to drive Lodovico from Milan, 
it was popular consent which rendered possible the return of 
his sons. The persistent demands of Milan for a Sforza Duke, 
determined the accession of Massimiliano In the face of rival 
claimants and of European jealousies. But for the loyalty and 
self-sacrifice of his subjects, Francesco II.'s short-lived triumph 
would have been impossible. 

In spite of the importance of popular consent, the failure of 


the Sforza Dukes to hold Milan Is due primarily to the break- 
down of their foreign policy. " The State of Milan," says a 
sixteenth century writer, "is a little tract of country from which 
a man may issue in a short day's journey, even if he should 
start from the centre. Nevertheless, this small plot of ground 
has already brought infinite troubles not only upon Italy but 
upon the surrounding countries." After bewailing the treasure 
and the blood that had been spent over the Duchy, the writer 
concludes : The cause of all this is without doubt, not the 
great fertility and abundance, not the fair cities, castles and 
villas to be found in the province, but the advantages of its 
situation, which render it most easy to conquer and most con- 
venient as a stepping-stone to further conquests ", l In other 
words, the Duchy of Milan formed the connecting link between 
Italy and the rest of Europe. The exclusion of the foreigner 
was necessary to its very existence as an independent State. 
It was the necessity of preventing ultramontane interference 
that gave distinction to the foreign policy of the Visconti. 
With regard to the maintenance of friendly relations with the 
European Powers, and more especially with France, their 
policy was inherited by the Sforza. Where, however, Gian 
Galeazzo Visconti strove to protect himself against foreign 
intervention by uniting all Italy under his rule, Francesco 
Sforza sought the same object in the Triple Alliance, which 
aimed at keeping the peace between the Five States in order 
that they might present a united front against the foreigner. 
To a large extent, the break-down of their foreign policy was 
due to causes beyond the control of the Sforza Dukes. If 
Rene of Anjou had been more competent and Charles VII 
less hampered by the opposition of the Dauphin, the French 
occupation of both Naples and Milan might have taken place 
in the fifties. Thus the success of the Triple Alliance was 
partly owing to the pacific policy of Louis XL and to the long 
minority of his son. When Charles VIII. resolved to invade 
Italy, a force had been set in motion which the Italian Powers 
could hardly control. Yet, if Charles VIII.'s invasion could 

1 Alberi, E., Due relazioni di Milano del tempo di Filipfo II. (Relazioni 
Venete, Serie ii,, vol, i, Florence, 1839.) 


not have been prevented, an alliance between the Five States 
would have robbed the expedition of half its terrors. This 
was rendered impossible by the jealousies and rivalries which 
divided the rulers of Italy and in which the Sforza Dukes of 
Milan had their full share. 

Considering the circumstances of Lodovico's fall, there is 
a double significance in Da Paullo's assertion that Milan owed 
her sufferings to " those cursed parties " {maledette parti) which 
proved the ruin of Italy. Despite their would-be neutrality, 
the Sforza Dukes were not able to over-ride faction in their 
own dominions. They were forced to rest upon the Ghibelline 
nobility, with the result that a Guelphic party in every town 
looked to some hostile Power against their natural ruler. The 
existence of internal troubles heightened the jealousy and 
suspicion which existed between Milan and her neighbours, 
until each State was ready to seek foreign aid in order to gain 
a momentary advantage over a rival. Just as internal factions 
forced the Italian towns to call in a foreign Podesta to keep 
the peace, so the rivalries between States produced the invita- 
tion to a foreign prince, who followed the example of the 
Podesta in turning the summons to his own advantage. 



WHILE the Duke lived, he never ceased to build/' 
Such is Cagnola's comment upon the reign of Fran- 
cesco Sforza, and it is equally applicable to those of his two 
sons. Nevertheless, the history of Architecture under the 
House of Sforza, centres not so much round the ducal patrons 
or the architects and sculptors whom they employed as round 
the buildings themselves. The Certosa of Pavia, for example, 
bears the mark of no one patron or architect. Its church, 
beginning with the long high naves and their Gothic pillars, 
and culminating in the full Renaissance work of the facade, 
contains in itself the story of Lombard architecture. A crowd 
of workers were attracted thither for the sake of the artistic 
education which the Certosa afforded, each generation in turn 
imbibing the tradition of its predecessors to such an extent as 
to make individual work in many cases indistinguishable. 
Each succeeding Duke, from Gian Galeazzo Visconti to 
Francesco Sforza II., contributed his share towards the monu- 
ment which formed the glory of no one man but of two 
dynasties. What is true of the Certosa is also true of the 
Duomo and Castello of Milan and indeed of all the chief build- 
ings in the Duchy. The leading architects of the day were 
employed, not on one building alone, but on each in turn. 
Hence it is by an account of the great monuments of the 
Duchy, of those which originated under the Visconti and were 
completed by the Sforza, of those begun by Francesco Sforza 
and of those begun by Lodovico, that the architecture of the 
period can best be understood. 

Foremost among the, building operations inherited from the 


ViscontI were those connected with the two great foundations 
of Duke Gian Galeazzo, the Duomo of Milan and the Certosa 
of Pavia. Of these, the Duomo owes comparatively little to 
the House of Sforza. Founded in 1386, it is, as the Gothic 
character of the general design testifies, essentially a Visconti 
monument Hence the Sforza Dukes are only responsible for 
details in the vast work, details, moreover, which must take 
their place amid a long series of additions culminating in the 
new fagade of our own days. According to the scheme made 
by Gian Galeazzo, the body immediately concerned with the 
building of the cathedral was the " Fabbrica del Duomo," a 
quasi-independent organisation with its own revenues and its 
special privileges, all of which Francesco Sforza hastened to 
confirm upon his accession. Two years later, the Fabbrica 
showed its independence by choosing from the two candidates 
nominated by the Duke for the vacant post of architect, the 
Milanese Giovanni Solari rather than Francesco's Florentine 
protg, Filarete. Giovanni was succeeded by his brother, 
Guinforte, who was architect both of the Duomo and of the 
Certosa until his death in 1481. Nevertheless, Francesco 
played a good part by the Duomo. In 1465 Bartolomeo 
Gadio, who had for long been the Duke's right hand in all his 
own building schemes, was appointed Commissioner General 
of the Cathedral Works. Thanks to his influence, some order 
was restored to the administration, while the Duke's consent was 
obtained to the appropriation of a tenth part of the Castello 
building fund for the Fabbrica del Duomo. The chief work 
in the Duomo to be carried out under Sforza auspices was the 
tiburtO) or octagonal dome supported by four arches, which 
marked the junction between the nave and the transepts, 
Quarrels with German artists, who had been consulted in the 
matter, proved a fertile source of delay until, in 1490, Lodovico 
II Moro summoned a congress of Italians to determine the 
form which the tiburio should take. Leonardo and Bramante 
were among the number. Thanks to them, it was decided to 
adhere to Lombard traditions and to entrust the new work to 
the native architect Arnadeo. In 1481 Amadeo had succeeded 
Guinforte Solari in his office at the Duomo, and he was now 


eagerly sought after both as an architect and as a sculptor. 
Hence II Moro must needs stipulate that Amadeo should 
" attend to his business " and not absent himself unless he were 
required elsewhere for the work of the Court. 1 Meanwhile 
Cristoforo Solari, commonly called II Gobbo, made statues of 
S. Ambrose, S. Augustine and S. Gregory to stand in niches 
over the columns, and in September, 1 500, the Annals of the 
Cathedral could record that " the tiburio is finished to the great 
pleasure of the citizens". Above the tiburio rose Amadeo's 
spire, while in the adjoining gallery was placed a medallion of 
the architect with the inscription : " IO. ANTONIUS HOMODEUS 
outcome of a symposium of artists, and representing, as it does, 
the transition from the Gothic to the Renaissance style, re- 
mains the most important example of fifteenth century work 
which the Duomo contains. 2 

The Certosa of Pavia, as the Duomo of Milan, was left by 
Gian Galeazzo Visconti financially independent of his suc- 
cessors in the Duchy. It owed its origin to the vow^of Caterina 
Visconti to found a Carthusian Monastery at Pavia, which she 
charged her husband to fulfil after her death. Founded in 
1396, monks were already installed there, and the foundations 
of the church were laid when Gian Galeazzo died leaving a 
yearly revenue to be used for the completion of the work and 
"afterwards to be transferred to the poor of Pavia. Unlike the 
Duomo, however, the Certosa offered large scope for the in- 
fluence of the Sforza Dukes. Owing to the unsettled state of 
the Duchy during the early years of the fifteenth century and 
to the fact that the monks had concentrated their efforts upon 
the refectory, chapter house, library and other parts of the 
monastery, the church in 1450 remained practically as it was 
in 1402. This pause of fifty years had important results. If 
the church had been completed by Gian Galeazzo It would 
have been a Gothic building after the style of the Duomo. In 
1450 the Gothic tradition was dying out, and the church was 

1 Cf. Malaguzzi-Valeri, Amadeo, scultore e architetto, Bergamo, 1904, 

2 Malaguzzi-Valeri, II Duomo di Milano nel Quattrocento. Repertorium fiir 
Kanstwissenschaft, 1901. 


continued upon the lines of the classic revival connected in the 
Duchy of Milan with the name of Sforza. 

Francesco Sforza welcomed the work of finishing the Certosa 
as an opportunity for showing himself a true successor of the 
Visconti. Hence he turned a deaf ear to the clamours of Pavia 
for the transfer of the revenues, and he even exempted the 
Carthusians from the tax levied throughout the Duchy for the 
war of 1452. Thanks to the new impulse given by Francesco, 
the main part of the Certosa church was built between the 
years 1453-1470, under the direction of Guinforte Solari. 
While the general lines of the church were determined by the 
foundations laid during the reign of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, 
the classic apses of the choir and transepts and the terra-cotta 
walls breathed a new and essentially Lombard spirit. At the 
same time, the work of internal decoration was put in hand, a 
task which trained a generation of sculptors who were to play 
a prominent part in the future. 

Here, as elsewhere, the ducal influence showed itself in 
bringing artists from beyond the borders of the State to share 
In the work at the Certosa, In 1464 a Venetian architect is 
mentioned in the Certosa account books as furnishing c< certain 
columns of red marble" 1 for the cloisters. A year later, 
Vincenzo Foppa of Brescia received payment for *< certain 
figures of prophets made for the great cloister ", 2 Later again, 
in 1469, Galeazzo Maria, upon the special petition of the monks, 
allowed his Florentine architect, Benedetto Ferrini, to visit the 
Certosa works twice a month, if he could do so without pre- 
judice to his work at the Castello of Milan. The fresh ideals 
which these men brought with them were imbibed by the young 
students working at the Certosa, chief of whom were the 
brothers Cristoforo and Antonio Mantegazza and Giovanni 
Antonio Amadeo. Bred in the traditions of the old Campione 
school of sculpture, the new influences brought to bear upon 
their work opened for them the way to progress. They learned 
to appreciate richness of decoration and colour. They learned, 
above all, to aim at natural rather than conventional treatment 

1 Beltrami, La Certosa di Pama* Milan, 1895. 


of the scenes and figures which they wrought in stone. In the 
work of the Mantegazza brothers, the desire for realism pro- 
duced a tendency towards exaggeration which they never 
entirely mastered. Amadeo, however, although he passed 
through a stage when his dramatic feeling outran his know- 
ledge of anatomy, attained in his best work to a high standard 
of beauty. He began his career at the Certosa when a boy of 
nineteen (1466), and the decoration of the doorway leading to 
the smaller cloister was among his earliest productions. 1 The 
sweetness of the angel faces which crowned the principal group 
of figures at once excited attention. When Amadeo passed 
from thence to execute the beautiful tomb of Medea Colleone 
at Bergamo, his reputation as a sculptor was made. 

Meanwhile, Francesco Sforza took the keenest interest in 
all that went on at the Certosa. When the work showed signs 
of flagging, owing to the want of agreement between Guinforte 
Solari and some of the older architects who had been concerned 
with the Certosa since its foundation, the Duke sent the invalu- 
able Gadio to smooth over difficulties. Francesco himself 
frequently visited the monastery to inspect the progress of the 
building or to do the honours to his foreign guests. A record 
has been preserved of one such visit when Count Galeazzo 
accompanied some ambassadors thither in his father's stead. 2 
Starting in the morning, they enjoyed a run with the harriers 
on the way and arrived at the Certosa in time for dinner. 
After a visit to the church, the Prior entertained them at a 
repast which included c< such variety of food and dressing as 
would not be believed ". They were then shown the cells and 
the rest of the monastery before returning home. 

Continually egged on to fresh efforts by each other's pre- 
sence, it is no wonder that the workers of the Certosa grew 
more ambitious in their schemes and less anxious to see the 
completion of a monument which offered so wide a scope for 

1 The work especially attributed to Amadeo, is the group over the doorway 
on the cloister side, in which S. John Baptist and S. Bruno present Carthusian 
monks to the Madonna and Child enthroned amid singing angels. Over the 
doorway inside the church are medallions of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Filippo 
Maria Visconti, and Francesco Sforza. 

2 Beltrami, Certosa. 


their activity. The monks, for their part, were equally desirous 
of postponing the day when they must renounce their revenues. 
Hence, when, in 1473, Guinforte Solari proffered a design for 
the fagade following more or less closely upon the general 
lines of the church, it was rejected as altogether too simple 
and unornamental in character. On the recommendation of 
Galeazzo Maria, the fagade was entrusted to the brothers 
Mantegazza. When Amadeo returned from Bergamo in the 
following year, Galeazzo's influence procured for him an im- 
portant share in the work. For the next few years, all three 
artists were busy in their workshop over the bas-reliefs and 
statues which were afterwards to be woven into the general 
design of the facade. There followed one of those pauses 
which were frequent in the artistic enterprises of the day, and 
it was not until 1491 that the fagade was begun in good 
earnest. By that time Guinforte Solari and Cristoforo Mante- 
gazza were dead. Thus, although others probably helped to 
determine the general lines of the fagade, to Amadeo fell the 
practical execution. Hence the wealth of decoration, the richly 
adorned candelabra which form the columns of the windows, the 
groups of children bearing the Sforza arms, the way in which 
every available space is filled with tracery, everything, in short, 
which makes the Certosa fagade what it is. Amadeo's decora- 
tion of the fagade occupied the years 1491-1497, and thus it 
corresponds with the golden age of the Court of Milan, with 
the period of II Moro's greatest prosperity. It is no mere 
flight of fancy to regard this " magnificent hybrid," in which in- 
genuity of invention and an exuberant love of beauty obscure 
the sense of simplicity and of proportion, as an illustration in 
stone of the age which it represents. 

Of all the Dukes of Milan, none cared more for the Certosa 
than did Lodovico II Moro. It was in his eyes the chief 
among the many glories of his State, and he spared no pains 
to bring all its parts up to the same high level of magnificence. 
The greater part of the stained glass dates from the reign of 
Galeazzo as is testified by the introduction of his favourite 
device of the buckets into some of the windows. To the reign 
of Lodovico, however, belong the decoration of the roof, the 


pictures for the cells, the frescoes and altar-pieces, which are 
connected with the name of Borgognone, In one instance 3 
Borgognone' s pictures form a commentary upon the progress 
of the building. The fresco which adorns the apse of the south 
transept represents Gian Galeazzo Visconti offering a model of 
the Certosa to the Virgin. Here the facade is taken from 
Solan's design, while in the beautiful little picture of Christ 
bearing the Cross, painted about the year 1497, the Certosa is 
seen in the background with Amadeo's facade in the course of 
construction. Among the features of the Certosa for which 
Lodovico was directly responsible, were the fine choir-stalls in 
intarsia. Visiting the Certosa one day, he decided that the 
existing stalls were "in no way worthy of the rest of the 
building". 1 He at once engaged a craftsman to execute new 
choir-stalls " of good intarsia and not painted " 2 after designs 
furnished by Borgognone. Despite the progress of the Certosa, 
the body of its founder still lacked a fitting tomb. In 1474, 
Gian Galeazzo's remains had been moved from the Basilica of 
S. Peter to the Certosa where they rested behind the high altar, 
waiting the erection of a mausoleum. At length in 1494, 
Lodovico insisted that the work should be put in hand. In 
accordance with his wishes the gifted Roman sculptor, Gian 
Cristoforo Romano, was employed upon the effigy of Gian 
Galeazzo, and upon bas-reliefs for the sarcophagus. Before the 
tomb was completed the storms of foreign invasion had broken 
over the Duchy, and it was only in 1562 that the body was 
transferred to its last resting-place. 

In May, 1497, the consecration of the church came as a 
crown to Lodovico's achievements for the Certosa. The cere- 
mony, as performed by the Papal Legate in the presence of 
the Duke, is commemorated in one of the bas-reliefs upon the 
west doorway. It proved to be the culminating point in the 
history of the Certosa. In the following year, when the facade 
was growing daily more splendid, the work stopped short. A 
few months later, Amadeo, absorbed in his business at the 
cathedrals of Milan and Pavia, finally resigned his post, 

1 Luzio-Renier, Arch. Stor. Lojtib,, 1890, p, 1x4. 
2 Beltrami, Cwfosa, 


Fast upon his departure came the fall of II Moro, and in the 
troublous years which followed the Certosa had but fitful 
attention. The lower part of the facade was, indeed, com- 
pleted in Amadeo's style, but in the upper part only the bare 
architectural lines were followed, broken by a few reliefs taken 
from earlier models. In 1514 the Prior petitioned for a large 
increase in the number of monks who might be received there, 
a change which must have done much to destroy the calm and 
solitude which had distinguished the monastery. At the same 
time, he asked for numerous alterations in the cells, dormitory 
and refectory in order that they might be brought up to a more 
modern standard of comfort. Finally, in 1542, the poor of 
Pavia received the revenues for which they had waited nearly 
a hundred and fifty years. One other episode in the history 
of the Certosa concerns the House of Sforza. In 1564 the 
recumbent figures of II Moro and Beatrice, originally made by 
II Gobbo for S. Maria delle Grazie, were moved to the Certosa, 
where they have remained until this day. Lying at the en- 
trance to the north transept, they are surrounded on all sides 
by memories of their race. In the apse, hard by, is Bor- 
gognone's fresco with the figures of Francesco and Lodovico 
Sforza kneeling before the Virgin. -North of the choir is the 
doorway into the sacristy with medallions of the four first 
Sforza Dukes. Above the doorway into the lav a bo on the 
south are corresponding medallions of the four Duchesses, 
their wives. Portraits of the House of Sforza wrought by 
Amadeo, the Mantegazza, II Gobbo and Borgognone, medal- 
lions, tomb and fresco, are alike witnesses to the memory of 
those who in their various spheres of influence helped, in no 
small measure, to make the Certosa of Pavia one of the wonders 
of the world. 

Two other buildings dating from the Visconti era require 
some notice. These are the Castello of Pavia and the Corte 
Ducale in Milan. As a favourite residence of the Visconti 
since the days of its foundation by Galeazzo 1L (1360), the 
Castello of Pavia passed to Francesco Sforza in a condition 
which seemed to admit of little improvement. Yet its very 
magnificence tempted the founder of a new dynasty to place 


his own mark upon It, and in 1456 the chief painters of the 
Duchy were employed to decorate the Castello with frescoes. 
The splendid hunting-ground afforded by the park, made 
Galeazzo Maria particularly fond of Pavia. Hence during 
his reign the work of decoration was continued on a far more 
extensive scale. From 1466 to 1475, local artists were covering 
practically the whole interior with scenes from the history of 
the reigning House. On one wall, Galeazzo Maria was re- 
presented discussing matters of State with Cecco Simonetta. 
Another was devoted to the marriage of Bona of Savoy at 
Amboise, another to her first meeting with the Duke. All 
traces of these frescoes have disappeared and the Castello is 
now used as a barrack. One can only deplore the loss of a 
gallery of contemporary portraits which would have been, from 
the historical point of view alone, Invaluable. Galeazzo also 
employed Benedetto Ferrini upon the chapel in the Castello. 
When in November, 1473, Ferrini left his work there for a time, 
Gadio, although crippled with gout, Insisted on paying the 
chapel a visit of inspection. In a letter to his trusted friend 
Cecco Simonetta, Gadio drew a mournful picture of the dis- 
organisation which he found, Since his arrival, however, and 
that of Messer Guinforte Solan he could thank God that 
the work was placed upon a better footing. The episode 
is an amusing testimony to the constant friction between 
Lombard and Tuscan architects in the service of the Dukes of 

"The Court of the Lords of Milan having fallen ill through 
want of food and being half-dead, I restored it to health, 
without which restoration it would soon have ended its days." 
In such quaint terms does Filarete describe his work upon 
the Corte Ducale during the early years of Francesco's reign. 
The Corte Ducale, or Corte d'Arengo, lay in the centre of 
Milan on the southern side of the Piazza del Duomo. It 
had been the original palace of the Visconti before the build- 
ing of the Castello, and Francesco's restoration of it won for 
him the general approval of the citizens. Here, too, the artists 
of the Lombard school covered the walls with frescoes, and 
throughout Francesco's reign it remained the only ducal 


residence In Milan. In 1772 the last trace of It was removed 
to make way for the existing Palazzo Reale. 

When the citizens of the Ambroslan Republic set them- 
selves to wipe out all traces of the tyranny by destroying the 
Castello of Milan, they did not apparently finish their task. 
What exactly was left standing It is hard to discover. Yet 
it is clear that Francesco Sforza must have utilised some parts 
of the ViscontI fortress or he would not have been able to 
lodge soldiers in a tower of the Rocchetta as early as August, 
145 1. 1 The square shape of the Castello with a tower at each 
angle, after the style of the Castello of Pavia, is a further in- 
dication of the survival of ViscontI traditions. Nevertheless 
the Castello of Milan Is for all practical purposes a Sforza 
monument. To the Sforza were due Its distinguishing 
characteristic, theirs Is the name which it bears to-day, and 
theirs the history with which it is primarily associated. Once 
armed with the petition for the rebuilding of a fortress in 
Milan, Francesco wasted no time over preliminaries. He 
realised that the renewal of war with Venice was only a 
question of time and that he stood in urgent need of a place 
of defence within the capital Hence the first architects 
were chosen quite as much for their military authority and 
for their devotion to the House of Sforza as for their tech- 
nical skill. The Castello derived a regular Income for the 
purposes of building from a monthly charge upon the taxes. 
Besides this, a special duty was Imposed to meet the ex- 
penses of transport, and the Castello was given a monopoly 
in mortar which it enjoyed until long after the ostensible 
reason for the privilege had ceased to exist. Not until 1502, 
upon the petition of the citizens to Louis XII., was mortar 
once more sold freely In Milan. Despite these provisions, 
the work constantly suffered from lack of money. Francesco 
found himself obliged to demand frequent payments from 
the Castello funds for other purposes. Salaries were Irregu- 
larly paid, and so bad was the financial reputation of the 
Castello that, when tenders were invited for the provision of 
certain building materials, it was necessary to give special 
1 Cf, Beltrami, Castelh di Milano< 


notice that " good and real payment " would be made. 1 
Francesco's absence from Milan during the war with Venice 
prevented him from exercising personal supervision at the 
Castello, and, probably in consequence of this, the first years 
were marked by numerous quarrels and difficulties amongst 
those engaged in the work. In December, 1451, the chief 
architect, one Giovanni da Milano, died of plague. The Duke 
gave instructions that he should be tended during his illness as 
if he were " one of our own brothers or sons," 2 and he mourned 
his loss with genuine grief. Giovanni was succeeded by 
Filippo Scozioli of Ancona, who proved himself both indolent 
and dishonest. "We wish you to show more diligence so 
that you should not appear to have slept directly after our 
departure," 3 Francesco wrote on one occasion. Finally, after 
various charges of dishonesty in dealing with the Castello re- 
venues, Filippo was fined and imprisoned for three years in 
the fortress which he had helped to build. In 1452 the 
name of Filarete first occurs in connection with the Castello, 
and his arrival provoked fresh controversy with the Lombard 
workers. " This Florentine wants to do everything in his own 
way," 4 they complained, when Filarete agitated for the use 
of marble in the place of sarizzo^ or Lombard granite, for 
certain decorations. As the result of these troubles a petition 
was addressed to the Duke in 1453, for a man "who will 
permanently superintend the work and who will make him- 
self feared as was Giovanni da Milano ". 5 Francesco replied 
by the appointment of Bartolomeo Gadio as Commissioner 
General of Works, which post he held for twenty-five years. 
Thanks to his untiring efforts, the administration was placed 
upon a better footing and the building went on amid fewer 

In 1452 the building of the Castello was so far advanced 
as to admit of the appointment of a castellan, and early in 
the year, the Duke's kinsman Foschino Attendolo took com- 
mand of the fortress. Although throughout Francesco's reign 
the Castello was only used for military purposes, the skeleton 

1 Bcltrami, Castello di Milano. ' 2 Op. cit, 

:} Of. cit. 4 Op. cit. 5 Op. cit. 


of the future palace arose under his auspices. His successor 
In the Duchy had only to make additional rooms within the 
main building and other such minor changes in order to render 
the Castello habitable. At the two angles of the fortress 
facing the city were round towers of granite. Intended solely 
for purposes of defence, and with the Visconti viper done in 
marble, flanked by the initials FR. SF. as their only em- 
bellishment, the towers might well wound the susceptibilities 
of the ever suspicious citizens. To counteract their effect 
Francesco determined that the central tower of the facade 
over the main entrance should be elaborately decorated. The 
task was entrusted to Filarete, and his work, following closely 
upon the description of the ideal fortress in his Trattato^ re- 
mained one of the most striking features of the Castello until 
its total destruction by an explosion of gunpowder in 1521. 
Beyond the main entrance the way lay across a large court- 
yard, known as the Piazza d'Armi, to the Corte Ducale. This 
was intended to be the ducal residence, while, in a line with it, 
stood the Rocchetta, or inner fortress, which could be defended 
against the rest of the Castello, if need be, and which could 
only be approached by means of a drawbridge from the 
Piazza d'Armi. At the angles of the Rocchetta and of the 
Corte Ducale were two towers corresponding with those facing 
the city, although unlike them in form, being square and 
divided into an upper and lower storey. The ducal treasure 
was kept in the lower room of the Rocchetta tower, while the 
Treasurer-General slept above, watching over his charge both 
by day and by night. Beyond the main building lay an outer 
line of fortifications. According to the current theory these 
fortifications were added after the Sforza era Yet, as Signer 
Beltrami points out, the theory is hardly plausible, for without 
them both Rocchetta and Corte Ducale would have been open 
to every attack. Their existence deprived the Sforza Dukes 
of what is to-day the most attractive feature of the Castello, 
namely, the magnificent view of the Alps from the windows 
looking over the park. Such were the main outlines of the 
Castello Sforzesco in the days of its founder. A massive pile, 
impressive for its strength rather than for its beauty, and un- 



relieved by the wealth of internal decoration which was soon to 
transform it into the most sumptuous palace in Italy. 

A new era began for the Castello when Galeazzo Maria 
resolved to bring his bride home thither in 1468. Among the 
improvements which the Duke ordered before taking up his 
abode in the Corte Ducale, were stabling for ninety horses 
and the provision of a room lined with wood which would 
keep out the cold. It is clear from this, and from other 
notices, that the Castello, with its draughty halls and big 
ill-fitting windows, was no ideal habitation in the winter 
months. From the time that the Court was installed in the 
Castello, the decoration of the rooms began in good earnest. 
The years 1469-1474 saw the origin of the Sala Celeste, with 
its sky-blue ceiling sprinkled with stars ; of the Sala delle 
Colombine, adorned with Bona's favourite device of doves in 
the midst of flames ; of the Sala degli Scarlioni, so called from 
the zigzag stripes in mulberry and white which covered its 
walls ; of the Sala delle Caccie, decorated with hunting scenes ; 
of the greater part of the rooms, in short, on both floors of the 
Corte Ducale. Galeazzo's chief architect in the Castello was 
Benedetto Ferrini, whose name figures with that of his master 
on the stairway of the Corte Ducale. Ferrini, moreover, was 
the moving spirit in the construction and decoration of the 
ducal chapel, which formed the most important part of 
Galeazzo's work for the Castello. The damaged remains of 
frescoes representing the Resurrection and the Annunciation 
which can still be seen in the roof and on the walls give but a 
faint reflection of its former glories. During the brief Regency 
of Bona, the decoration of the Castello was abandoned and 
attention was once more concentrated upon the fortifications. 
Hence the Torre di Bona di Savoia at the corner of the 
Rocchctta adjoining the Corte Ducale and opposite to the 
Torre del Tesoro. The architect of the tower, according to 
Corio, was Lodovico Marquis of Mantua. His work as an 
architect is mentioned by Filarete, and as the Marquis was 
in Milan at the time, helping to make peace between Bona 
and her brother-in-law, Corio's information is probably cor- 


Under the auspices of II Moro, the decoration of the Cas- 
tello was carried, as, indeed, were all the artistic enterprises of 
the Duchy, to heights hitherto unknown. On the marriage of 
Gian Galeazzo to Isabella of Aragon elaborate preparations 
were made to do honour to the bride. A special suite of rooms 
was made ready in the Corte Ducale, while monasteries, nobles 
and merchants were .alike called upon to lend their tapes- 
tries to decorate the Castello for the occasion. Lodovico's 
wedding in 1491 necessitated the formation of a separate 
household for Beatrice. Hence fresh improvements were in- 
troduced into the Rocchetta in order to provide her with suit- 
able apartments there. At the same time, painters were 
summoned from all pails of the Duchy to adorn the walls and 
ceiling of the ballroom. Later again, Lodovico's elevation to 
the ducal throne was marked by the erection of that elegant 
addition to the Corte Ducale known as the Ponticella of 
Bramante. The arches of the Ponticella spanned the Castello 
trench and it thus formed a means of communication with the 
park and city, while a series of small rooms connected it on 
the other side with the Corte Ducale. Another feature of the 
Castello, which must have been executed by Bramante at 
about the same time, is the fresco of the thousand-eyed Argos, 
of which traces can still be seen upon the walls of the Sala del 
Tesoro. Between the years 1495-1498 Leonardo is known to 
have been at work in the Castello. Those among the recently 
discovered decorations which most distinctly bear the trace of 
his hand are in the lower room of the Corte Ducale tower, 
sometimes called the Camera grande dclle Asse. Round the 
walls are painted trees of which the foliage covers the ceil- 
ing with a green canopy while golden cords are entwined in 
the branches after a characteristically Leonardesquc pattern. 
Woven into the design are the arms of the Duke and Duchess 
and inscriptions commemorating their various claims to renown. 
Leonardo is also known to have assisted in the decoration of 
the Saletta Negra, a small room in the Corte Ducale which 
owes its name to the sad time when II Moro ordered all his 
apartments to be hung in black while he mourned for Beatrice, 
It was at this juncture that II Moro had his initials and those 


of his wife placed upon Filarete's tower, upon the Torre di 
Bona and upon various other parts of the Castello. 

The decorations in memory of his dead wife were the 
last which Lodovico undertook in the Castello. Before the 
end of 1498, the political situation forced him to concentrate 
his efforts upon its defences. Secret passages were repaired, 
trenches were dug out, walls were mended and the Castello was 
stocked with food and ammunition at a total cost of some 
26,000 ducats. Moreover, an intricate system of signals 
was devised by which the garrison could make its wants 
known to the citizens. If boots were required for the soldiers, 
a woman's stocking would be shown twice; if cheese, a bodice. 
Bread, wine and ammunition had each their special sign. The 
sequel to these preparations is only too well known, and the 
brief siege, followed by Da Corte's infamous surrender, proved 
the beginning of evil days for the Castello. Fruitlessly attacked 
by Ascanio Sforza in 1500. Held by the French against Mas- 
similiano in 1513, and by Massimiliano against the French in 
1515. Besieged for fourteen months in the interests of Fran- 
cesco IL in 1523 and held by him for eight months in 1526, the 
Castello experienced no less than six sieges before the close of 
the Sforza era. These vicissitudes formed but the prelude 
to still more numerous attacks at the hands of Spaniards, 
Austrians, French and Italians, who in turn competed for its 
possession. There is little wonder that when, after centuries of 
warfare, the Castello was no longer needed as a defence, it had 
suffered too great injuries to be considered as an ornament 
Some twenty years ago it only escaped destruction through the 
intervention of a body of enlightened citizens, who have since 
devoted themselves to its restoration. Thanks to their efforts 
it is preserved to-day as a Museum of Antiquities, and as a 
standing witness to the past glories of Milan. 

Side by side with the building of the Castello progressed 
that of Francesco's other great foundation, the Ospedale Mag- 
giore. In April, 1456, the Duke issued a diploma dedicating 
a palace originally belonging to Bernabd Visconti and various 
other buildings between the churches of S. Nazaro and 
S. Stefano to the purpose of founding a hospital. A few 


days later the foundation-stone was laid " with a solemn pro- 
cession of all the clergy of Milan, in the presence of the Duke 
Francesco Sforza, Signora Bianca Maria and all their children, 
the Marquis of Mantua, the ambassador of King Alfonso of 
Aragon and many other gentlemen' 5 . 1 The design was en- 
trusted to Filarete, who directed the work until 1465 and to 
whom is due the general character of the building, done in 
terra-cotta after the style of the early Renaissance in Lombardy. 
Filarete was directly responsible only for that part of the ex- 
isting hospital which lies to the right of the entrance beyond 
the large central court This court with the chapel opposite 
to the entrance and the wing on the left, corresponding with 
Filarete's original building, were added in the seventeenth 
century. Hence the hospital consisted, in the Sforza era, of 
a square with buildings running through it in the form of a 
cross. Four inner quadrangles were thus formed, each sur- 
rounded by colonnades the principal of which Foppa was em- 
ployed to decorate witfy frescoes representing the foundation 
of the hospital, Francesco's presentation of a model to Pius II. 
and other scenes connected with the building. 2 One wing 
was reserved for men, the other for women, and at the junction 
of the four arms of the cross stood the chapel, so arranged 
as to serve for both parts of the hospital. Hard by ran the 
city canal whence water could be obtained for the various 
needs of the establishment In all these contrivances can be 
traced the practical mind of Francesco Sforza, whose capacity 
for detail found equal scope in planning a hospital, which 
served as a model for all other institutions of the day, as in 
organising campaigns and marshalling armies. Filarete was 
succeeded in his office of architect by Guinforte Solan, who 
was followed in his turn by Amadeo, Eramante also worked 
at the hospital during his stay in Milan, contributing to the 
rich terra-cotta decorations which adorn the windows and the 
capitals of the colonnades. From the days of its founder 

1 Vasari, Vite de Pittori, Filarete. 

2 The pictures now in the central hall of the hospital date only from the 
seventeenth century, but they are probably copies of the earlier frescoes, Cf 
Malaguszi-Valeri, Piitori Lombardi M Quattvoc&nto. Milan, 1902, 


until now the Ospedale Maggiore has been in constant use. 
Some 20,000 patients are received there each year, and It still 
holds its place as one of the best managed hospitals in Italy. 

Two churches in Milan were founded by Francesco Sforza 
and his wife. Bianca's church was dedicated to S. Niccol6 of 
Tolentino, a holy man of the March whom Eugenius IV. had 
canonised in 1446, when Francesco still ruled in that province. 
Adjoining it was Francesco's foundation of S. Maria Incoro- 
nata, which to-day gives its name to the two churches united 
under one roof. The Visconti viper is still to be seen on the 
facade, while the church contains two monuments connected 
with the history of the Sforza, One is that of Francesco's 
brother, Archbishop Gabriele. The other commemorates the 
Treasurer, Antonio Landriano, who was murdered in 1499, 
just before II Moro's flight to Germany. For the rest, Fran- 
cesco's building operations were directed mainly towards the 
better defence of his dominions. To him both the Porta 
Roraana and the Porta Vercellina in Milan owed their for- 
tresses. The Castello of Cremona was strengthened by an 
outer circle of walls. Bridges were built over the Po at Piacenza 
and over the Adda at Lodi and Cassano, while the citadels of 
the chief subject-towns were either erected or improved under 
his auspices. Considering that Francesco only reigned sixteen 
years and that at least four of these were spent in establishing 
his hold upon the Duchy, the amount which he achieved in the 
sphere of architecture can only be described as extraordinary. 

One other building in Milan must be mentioned here, for 
which Francesco was not directly responsible, but which, 
nevertheless, exercised an important influence upon the archi- 
tecture of his day. This was the Medici Bank in the Via de j 
Bossi, which was decorated and practically rebuilt by Cosimo's 
orders as a sign of his appreciation of the gift Although 
there seems little foundation for Vasari's assertion that 
Michelofczo was the architect employed, the decoration of the 
bank was obviously inspired by Florentine traditions. The 
Florentine, Filarete, who had been recommended to Francesco 
Sforza by the Medici, filled the pages of his Trattato with 
descriptions of its splendours. With its loggias and marble 


doors, its vast halls and richly decorated ceilings after the 
style of the Medici Palace in Florence, the bank appeared to 
Filarete " more beautiful than anything in Milan ". It is easy 
to understand that, at a time when Florence was regarded as 
the highest criterion in matters of art, the Medici Bank would 
serve as a model and an inspiration to many a rising archi- 
tect at the Sforza Court. Cosimo's representative in his 
Milanese house was the Florentine, Pigello Portinari, whose 
name has lived on in Milan owing to the chapel which he 
founded in S. Eustorgio for the reception of the shrine of 
S. Peter Martyr. Here Portinari was himself buried in 1468. 
Sixteen years later, in 1484, Lorenzo dei Medici's financial 
difficulties obliged him to abandon the bank, of which all traces 
have now disappeared. The only remaining fresco, of those 
which once covered its walls, is that known as Gian Galeazzo 
Sforza reading Cicero, which has found its way into the 
Wallace Collection. Among the architectural fragments pre- 
served in the Castello Museum, is the magnificent marble 
doorway containing portraits of Francesco and Bianca Sforza. 
This alone, in the wealth of its decoration and the delicacy of 
its carving, is sufficient indication of the former splendours of 
the Medici Bank. 

Great as was the activity of Lodovico 11 Moro in the sphere 
of architecture, he had inherited so vast a field in the monu- 
ments founded by his predecessors, that the buildings begun 
under his auspices form the least important part of his work. 
His chief function was to adorn and improve the foundations 
of his ancestors, notably the Castello of Milan and the Certosa 
of Pavia, Nevertheless, the Duomo of Pavia, the churches of 
S. Maria presso Celso and S. Satiro in Milan and the monas- 
teries of S, Maria delle Grazie and S, Ambrogio were built 
during II Moro's reign. About the year 1490 Lodovico re- 
solved to erect a cathedral at Pavia upon the site of the 
ancient basilica which was rapidly becoming a ruin. There- 
upon Leonardo cla Vinci was sent thither with a Siencse 
architect to give advice as to the proposed building. His col- 
league did, apparently, furnish some plans for the cathedral, 
but Leonardo was too much absorbed in the laws of geometry 


and meclianlcs which should govern its construction to produce 
any tangible result of his visit Eventually the work was en- 
trusted to a pupil of Bramante. Yet the architect's death, in 
1497, occurred before the Duomo had attained to more than a 
" praiseworthy and magnificent beginning ".* It was, thereupon, 
decided that Arnadeo should be asked to supervise the building, 
to which arrangement II Moro gave a somewhat grudging, 
consent, insisting that the architect should not go to the 
Duomo more than two or three times a month in order that 
the Certosa might not be neglected. Despite this stipulation 
Amadeo's appointment as architect of the Duomo in 1498 
paved the way for his resignation of his post at the Certosa, 
and the Cathedral of Pavia was in large measure due to him. 
His hand can be traced in the fine tiburio, clearly inspired by 
the Certosa, and in the graceful loggia which runs round the 
interior of the cathedral. In 1498, however, the days of artistic 
activity were already numbered. Although Amadeo carried 
the work several stages nearer completion, the Duomo of 
Pavia took its place among the many unfinished monuments 
which bear witness to the abrupt close of II Mora's reign. 

During the era of Francesco and of Galeazzo, Milanese 
architecture had been infused with the ideals of Florence by 
means of such men as Filarete and Benedetto Ferini. Now, 
under Lodovico, the external influence came from a fresh 
quarter and Lombard architecture was guided into new 
channels by Bramante of Urbino. It has been truly said 
that "Bramante's is the great name of the second period of 
the Renaissance, as Brunelleschi's is of the first ". 2 Bramante, 
indeed, created a revolution in Italian architecture which can 
only be compared with that effected by his Florentine prede- 
cessor, and the influence of both made itself felt in Milan. 
Yet, whereas Brunelleschi's ideals were only transmitted to 
Milan through his successors, Bramante settled in the Duchy 
when his art was still in process of development. Thus 
Milan became the stage upon which the later revolution was 
effected, her monuments were the models from which its 

1 Malaguzzi-Valeri, Amadeo, 

2 Blashfield and Hopkins, Vasarfs Lives, vol. in., p. 41. 


originator drew his inspiration. It is now generally held that 
Bramante migrated to Lombardy as early as 1472-1474, and 
from the time that Lodovico became possessed of the reins of 
government, he was constantly employed in his service. About 
the year 1485, Bramante practically rebuilt the little church of 
S. Satiro in Milan, adding to it the fine baptistery which the 
goldsmith and sculptor, Caradosso, decorated with a terra- 
cotta frieze. Among the row of dancing children which 
forms the main design of the frieze, are medallions containing 
what are generally held to be the portraits of Bramante and 
Caradosso, the architect and sculptor who worked there 
together. A few years later, Bramante was working at 
Lodovico's favourite church and monastery of S. Maria delle 
Grazie. Originally founded by that Gaspare da Vimercate who 
had aided Francesco Sforza to enter Milan, the possession of 
a miracle-working Madonna had enabled the Dominicans to 
build the church upon a larger and more magnificent scale. 
Now, while it was still unfinished, Lodovico took the work 
under his patronage, and for the remainder of his reign he was 
engaged in schemes for its improvement. Apse, cloister and 
sacristy are all by Bramante's hand, and in 1497 he added the 
beautiful cupola which ranks among his finest work. S. Maria 
delle Grazie had become, in that year, doubly clear to II Moro 
as the burial-place of his wife. A jewelled crucifix, illuminated 
missals and a complete set of altar plate, were among the gifts 
which Lodovico lavished upon the church. II Gobbo was 
employed to execute Beatrice's tomb and to carve reliefs upon 
the high altar. Finally, the Duke ordered a congress of artists 
to be summoned in order to furnish designs for the facade, a 
work which the approaching invasion never allowed to be 
finished. Nevertheless, the Church of the Grazie remains one 
of the best examples of Renaissance work in Milan, and, more- 
over, the church which is most intimately associated with 
Lodovico II Moro. Here, in truth, to quote from an inscrip- 
tion which is still preserved in the cloister, every stone pro- 
claims him as Duke and Mecaenas, 1 Bramante's last work ir\ 

1 "Singulis horum pcnatium lapidibus ctaqem mecasnatem clanwwtibus," 


Milan was the Monastery of S. Ambrogio, which has now 
become a military hospital. In 1492 he was engaged upon 
the cloister with its marble columns and richly carved capitals. 
When he returned, after an interval of some years, to build the 
adjacent monastery, his numerous engagements prevented him 
from giving it his undivided attention. Other artists were 
employed upon the reliefs in the place of " Maestro Bramante, 
occupied with other work," until at length the fall of II Moro 
brought with it the total suspension of the building. Bramante 
left Milan to embark upon a career of still greater triumph in 
Rome and to win for himself eternal fame as the original 
architect of S. Peter's. 

The subject of the present chapter has so far been confined 
to the architecture of Milan and Pavia. Yet, while these cities 
provided the Sforza Dukes with their chief sphere of activity, 
the other towns of the Duchy were by no means neglected. 
"He who is master of Milan has the whole Duchy at his 
mercy " wrote that astute observer Philippe de Commlnes, and 
his remark is no less applicable to architecture than it is to 
matters of government Foreign architects, attached to the 
Court of Milan, passed from thence to execute commissions in 
the subject-towns. Local craftsmen were employed in the 
great building works of the capital, and carried back with them 
to their native town the ideas which they had imbibed there. 
Typical of what took place in many parts f the Duchy, is the 
influence exercised by Amadeo over the architecture of 
Cremona. Asked by the monks of S. Lorenzo to design a 
tomb for the martyrs S. Mario and S. Marta, Amadeo came to 
Cremona about 1482, The bas-reliefs which he executed 
have since been transferred to a pulpit in the Duomo, and it is 
easy to trace the connection between these and the work of 
Pietro da Rho, an architect who was much employed In 
Cremona at the time. Pietro da Rho is probably responsible 
for the door of the Stanga Palace now in the Louvre, of which 
the rich carving, full of movement and of animation, shows 
a close affinity with Amadeo's work. Among the architects 
who studied at the Certosa were the brothers Giacomo and 
Tommaso Rodari of Como, They returned to make extensive 


alterations In their own cathedral and to decorate the whole 
building, aided in their task by Amadeo's encouragement and 
advice. Later on, Bramante furnished designs for the new 
fagade and portal which were added to the Cathedral of Como 
about the year 1491. 

Much of the building in the subject-towns was executed at 
the orders of the Sforza Dulles and by architects in their 
service. The fortresses at Vigevano and Cusago both belong to 
the Sforza era, and the resemblance between their principal 
towers and the Torre di Filarete in Milan point to their having 
been imitated from the work of the Florentine architect, if they 
were not actually built by him. The Castello of Soncino was 
built by Ferini during the latter part of Galeazzo's reign, and, a 
few years later, Guinforte Solari was employed upon the for- 
tresses at Gaillate and Novara. Under Lodovico, building 
went on in the subject-towns on a still more extensive scale. 
In 1488 Bramante's pupil, Dolcebuono, began the Church of 
the Incoronata at Lodi, which was afterwards decorated by 
Amadeo. Bramante built a church at Abbiategrasso, while the 
ducal villa was enlarged and improved by him at II Moro's 
command. The palace at Vigevano, which formed one of 
Lodovico' s favourite resorts, was also Brarnante's work, and it 
is probable that he assisted the Duke in his numerous schemes 
for the improvement of his native town. Thus the architec- 
tural revival of the Sforza period spread throughout the Duchy. 
Thanks mainly to the activity of the Dukes of Milan and to the 
new influences which they brought to bear upon the native 
schools in their dominions, a style of architecture arose which 
was distinctively Lombard in character. The richly decorated 
terra-cotta buildings of Lornbardy had their own place, and 
that by no means an unimportant one, in the Italian Renais- 



NOT least among the many reasons which favoured a 
despotism rather than a Republic in Italy were the 
superior qualifications of the despot for acting as a patron of 
art. A Republic would employ the local artists for the de- 
coration of public buildings, and this, with the commissions of 
private families and of religious communities, created a con- 
stant demand for artistic work. A prince, however, could do 
more than give commissions. He was in a position to pay not 
only for results but for experiments in the sphere of art. His 
Court could be made the centre of attraction for all the rising 
artists of the day. 

Of these princely patrons few can rank above the Sforza 
Dukes. Under them Milan became the fountain-head of Lom- 
bard art, whither the painters of the subject-towns came for 
inspiration and employment. They exercised, moreover, that 
wider patronage which extended beyond the limits of the 
State. Their Court was held throughout Italy to offer the 
widest scope for artistic genius. Typical of the part played 
by ducal patronage is the fact that the two most powerful in- 
fluences In Milanese art came from beyond the borders of the 
Duchy, and that Milan became the home of their adoption 
owing to the two chief Sforza Dukes. Viricenzo Foppa was a 
Brescian by birth, and he had already received his artistic 
training In the schools of Verona and Venice, before he settled 
at Pavia, about the year 1456, and came under the notice of 
Francesco Sforza. The school which Foppa founded reigned 
supreme in Milan until some twenty-five years later, when 
" Leonardo the Florentine " offered his services to Lodovlco 
II Moro, and In so doing created a revolution in Lombard art. 

1 8 273 


When Francesco Sforza became Duke of Milan the Lom- 
bard school of painting was still in its infancy. Owing to the 
long period of unrest which followed upon the death of Gian 
Galeazzo Visconti, there had been little progress in the history 
of art since the beginning of the century. In 1450, as in 
1402, the painter found the field of artistic activity practically 
monopolised by his forerunners, the architect and the sculptor. 
Very soon, however, Francesco began to seek out painters to 
decorate the walls of his principal dwelling-places, and in so 
doing he came in contact with Foppa. Little trace or record 
remains of Foppa's early work in Milan, but it is probable that 
he was one of the artists employed at the Castello of Pavia in 
1456, and at the Court of Arengo in Milan some three years 
later. From henceforth his relations with Francesco Sforza 
appear to have been close and constant When, in 1461, 
Foppa went to Genoa he took with him a glowing letter of 
recommendation from his patron. Such praise, wrote the 
Duke, was demanded both by "his skill in painting and his 
faith and devotion towards ourselves ", 1 As the result of this 
visit Foppa established a connection with Genoa which lasted 
for many years. He was employed at different times by 
members of the Spinola and Doria families, and in 1490 he 
was commissioned by Giuliano della Rovere to paint an altar- 
piece for the Cathedral of Savona. By such means as these 
did the ducal patrons of art extend their influence through 
all parts of their dominions. 

In 1462 Foppa was back at Pavia, and he was constantly 
employed by Duke Francesco during the remainder of his 
reign. Among his most important works was the decoration 
of the Medici Bank with frescoes, including a series of episodes 
in the life of Trajan, portraits of Francesco Sforza, his wife and 
children, and various other subjects. At the Medici Bank 
Foppa naturally came in contact with the Florentine Governor, 
Pigello Portinari, for whom he is held to have executed the 
frescoes which may still be seen in the Portinari Chapel at S, 
Eustorgio. During the last years of Francesco's reign Foppa 

l Cf. Caffi, M. Di akuni maestri di arte ml secolo xv in Milano, p. 101. 
Arch. Stor. Lomb., 1878. 

ART 275 

was at work in the Ospedale Magglore and In the cloisters of 
the Certosa, nor did the death of his great patron cause any 
cessation in his activity. Galeazzo Maria at once took him 
into his service, and in 1468 the Duke wrote to recommend 
Foppa as a suitable person to be made a citizen of Pavia. 
Some years later, when Galeazzo wished to find an artist 
worthy of furnishing the altar-piece for the chapel in the 
Castello of Pavia, he was advised by Bartolomeo Gadio to 
consult "Magistro Vincenzo" as all painters would not be 
equal to the task. Gadio was not a person to be easily 
satisfied, as has been seen in his dealings with the architects of 
the day. Hence his confidence in Foppa is no small testimony 
to the painter's merits and to the high position which he held 
among his contemporaries. For a short time Foppa enjoyed 
the patronage of II Moro, and as late as 1485 he was painting 
in Milan at the Church of S. Maria del Brera. In 1489, how- 
ever, the artist petitioned the Council of Brescia for leave to 
return to his native city, where the remainder of his life was 
spent. In the new era which had dawned under the auspices 
of Leonardo da Vinci the atmosphere of Milan had doubtless 
ceased to be congenial to one who was wedded to the tradi- 
tions of the Lombard school, and who had for long been re- 
garded as its chief representative. 1 

Time has dealt hardly with the fruits of Foppa's long years 
of labour. Of all the frescoes which once adorned the Medici 
Bank, the Court of Arengo, the Certosa and Castello of Pavia 
no trace remains, and such of his work as has escaped destruc- 
tion is now scattered through the picture galleries of Europe. 
Nevertheless, enough survives to justify the renown which 
Foppa won in his own day, and perhaps also to show that 
his art possessed features which would naturally appeal to 
Francesco Sforza. Somewhat conventional in treatment and 
lavish in his use of gold paint, Foppa clung to the early tradi- 
tions of Italian art. Yet the lack of grace in his squarely 
built figures with their large feet is more than compensated 
for by his " correct and masterly outline " and by the feeling of 

1 C/. Ffoulkes, C. J., Foppa (Bryan's Dictionary of Painters, vol. ii., ed. 


power and energy which pervades his work. Such ap artist 
would have much in common with the first Sforza Duke. In 
the eyes of both prince and artist, the one the founder- of a 
dynasty, the other the founder of a school of painting, elegance 
and even beauty must needs yield the first place to strength. 
Francesco, moreover, was soldier enough to have a wholesome 
respect for the conventional, and to look askance at any de- 
parture from the beaten track in the sphere of art. Even in 
such minor matters as a fondness for architectural backgrounds 
and for effects of perspective, Foppa's tastes may well have 
been shared by the Duke who "never ceased to build". 

Foppa had no immediate contemporary in Milan whose 
talents were in any way equal to his own. There were, how- 
ever, a host of minor artists in the ducal service whose time 
was for the most part occupied with such humble commissions 
as the decoration of banners, marriage chests and the bards worn 
by horses. In 1455, for example, Francesco wrote to the Podesta 
of Cremona recommending him to employ a certain " Giovanni 
da Milano detto Pavese" to repaint the ducal arms upon a 
tower of the city, "in order that the viper (biscid} may be as 
magnificent and beautiful as it ever was, for the glory and 
honour of our city V Some five or six members of the family 
of Zenone da Vaprio were employed upon similar tasks by 
Francesco and his son. Chief of these was Constantino, who 
in 1468 produced " eight chests and a basket at twelve ducats " 
in honour of Duchess Bona's arrival in Milan. 2 Such men 
were in the position of artisans rather than of artists. They 
carried out the instructions of their employer, which often went 
into the minutest details. Costly colours, such as ultramarine 
and gold, would not be used unless expressly ordered and paid 
for by the patron. Yet painting as a trade proved a valuable 
training for painting as an art, and craftsmen such as Constan- 
tino da Vaprio and Cristoforo Moretto, passed from providing 
bards for the Duke's horses to covering the walls of his palaces 
with frescoes. 

Another branch of art which was largely developed by 

I Malaguzzx-Valeri, Pitton Lombardi del Quattrocento. Milan, 1902. 
2 O. cit. 


U'aUaa* Collection 

ART 277 

ducal patronage was that of portrait painting. At a time 
when an interchange of portraits was the necessary accompani- 
ment of a marriage contract, and when it was the custom to 
paint the portraits even of the more important criminals, the art 
had a semi-political value. Political motives appear occasionally 
to have influenced Francesco Sforza in his choice of painters, 
as Bonlfazio Bembo, of Cremona, when seeking employment 
from the Duke, made special mention of his services <c for the 
preservation of this city for your Highness" 1 when it was 
besieged by the armies of Visconti in 1447. Bembo became 
one of the leading artists in the service of the two first Sforza 
Dukes, and in 1462 he was employed upon the fresco portraits of 
Francesco and his wife, which are still to be seen in the Church 
of S. Agostino at Cremona. Despite their damaged condi- 
tion, the two kneeling figures retain a peculiar interest as 
Bembo's only surviving authentic work, and as two of the few 
really contemporary portraits of Francesco Sforza and Bianca 
Maria Visconti. Another portrait-painter greatly favoured by 
the House of Sforza was Zanetto Bugatto. In 1460 he was 
sent by the Duke and Duchess to study art in Brussels under 
Roger van der Weyden, and, three years later, Bianca herself 
wrote to thank that famous master for the pains which he had 
bestowed upon her protege". This same Bugatto was sent to 
France in 1468 to paint the portrait of Bona of Savoy for her 
future husband. On "Messer Zanetto V return, Galeazzo Maria 
was so much pleased with the picture that he wrote to his 
mother begging her to excuse him from sending it to her, as he 
could not bring himself to part with it. Besides this artist, 
who in Galeazzo's opinion "worked from the life with singular 
perfection," 2 the Duke also employed Cristoforo de Predis, father 
of the more famous Ambrogio. The interesting illumination 
in the Wallace Collection, representing Galeazzo Maria praying 
for victory, is by Cristoforo's hand, although it is hard to tell 
what event in Galeazzo's somewhat inglorious military career 
it was intended to commemorate. 

Widespread artistic activity and the influence of a power- 
ful and original artist are together sufficient to produce a 
distinctive school of painting. Thus the two first Sforza Dukes 

i Caffi, of. cit. t p. 82, 2 Malaguzzi-Valeri, Pittori Lomtardi, 


through their patronage of Foppa and through the incentive 
which they gave to the local arts, played no small part in the 
development of the Lombard school. Their influence bore 
fruit in the work of such men as Borgognone and Bramantino, 
Zenale and Buttinone, whose style was already formed before 
the arrival of Leonardo, and who, whether or no, they suc- 
cumbed in individual cases to Leonardo's influence, stand out 
as the representatives of an independent and earlier tradition. 

The name of Ambrogio Stefano da Fossano, better known 
as Borgognone, first appears in the " Matricola deir Universita 
dei pittori di Milano" in the year 1481. From then until his 
death in 1523 Borgognone painted steadily in Milan and Pavia, 
never apparently going further afield than Bergamo, and un- 
affected by the political crises which took place around him. 
Borgognone's connection with the Certosa, and his untiring 
industry as a painter, have rendered his works familiar to 
many who know little of his contemporaries save their names. 
There is, however, no better representative of Lombard art in 
the pre-Leonardesque era. Although sombre in colouring and 
somewhat solid in their proportions, Borgognone' s pale-faced 
Madonnas have their peculiar charm. Refined sentiment, power' 
of expression, and, above all, a true spirit of devotion are never 
absent from his work. Despite the traces of Leonardo's in- 
fluence which can be discerned in his later pictures, Borgog- 
none remained until the last "the incarnation of the early 
Milanese spirit in art". 1 If this spirit breathes in the picture 
of the two S. Catherines, which hangs in the National Gallery, 
it breathes no less in the magnificent fresco of the Coronation 
of the Virgin in the Church of S. Simpliciano at Milan. The 
sense of dignity and mysticism which pervades the earlier work 
is, if anything, intensified by the more realistic treatment of 
the later period. 

Among the other painters of the pre-Leonardesque school, 
Bartolomeo Suardi, or Bramantino, is distinguished by his 
close association with the great architect and painter Bramante. 
Bramantino began his artistic career as the pupil of Foppa, and 
as late as the year 1526 he was acting as engineer-in-chief to 
1 Bryan's Dictionary, vol. v., " Stefanq '% 


Pinac&teca del Brsra, Titian 

ART 279 

Francesco Sforza II. Thus he serves as a connecting-link 
between the various phases in the artistic history of the Sforza 
era. Educated in the old Lombard tradition, he was profoundly 
influenced by the great revival of II Moro's reign. Finally, when 
the golden age was over, and when Leonardo and Bramante 
had departed, he lived to hand on the traditions of his youth 
to Luini and Gaudenzlo Ferrari. For the rest, these masters 
of the old Lombard school do not stand out very clearly from 
each other, and the task of distinguishing them Is one which 
may well be left to the art critic. All show the same charac- 
teristics in a more or less degree. Amber and grey are their 
favourite colours, S. Catherine of Alexandria is their favourite 
saint. Their style is severe and lacking in movement, yet it 
is highly finished, restrained and dignified. Nothing could be 
further removed from the glowing vitality of Leonardo's art. 
Yet owing to the common meeting ground afforded by II 
Moro's Court, Lombard painting of the future arose out of a 
fusion of these two styles. It is a curious coincidence that the 
process of transition is nowhere better illustrated than in the well- 
known altar-piece In the Brera containing portraits of Lodovico, 
Beatrice, and their sons. In the centre of the picture the Virgin 
sits enthroned with the Child upon her lap, while behind her 
stand the four Fathers of the Church. S. Ambrose, the patron 
saint of Milan, has his hand upon Lodovico's shoulder as If in 
the act of presenting him to the Virgin. The little Count of 
Pavia kneels at his father's side, while opposite to them are the 
kneeling figures of Beatrice and the baby Francesco, who is 
still in swaddling clothes. Painted In the year 1495, the picture 
stands, both historically and artistically, at the parting of 
the ways. From the former point of view, it represents the 
House of Sforza at the very apex of its prosperity. From the 
latter, it shows the old Lombard style stirred, as it were, by a 
breath of Renaissance air. Although the figures are still of the 
heavy Lombard type they no longer lack movement Leo- 
nardo's grace and sweetness have yet to come, but the lesson 
of animation has already been learned. 

With the supremacy of Lodovico II Moro a new chapter 
began in the history of Lombard art. His love of splendour, 


his ambition, and above all, his refined artistic sense, quick to 
discern real merit, combined to make him an ideal patron. " In 
dealing with artists his judgment is absolutely unerring," * says 
a writer who is by no means inclined to favour II Moro. Hence 
nothing would satisfy him short of the best. For this, where 
should he turn but to the artistic circles of Florence and to 
that renowned patron of the arts, his friend and contemporary, 
Lorenzo del Medici ? 

Precisely when and how Leonardo da Vinci came to Milan Is a 
matter of some uncertainty. The anonymous writer of his life 
relates that the artist was sent at the age of thirty by Lorenzo dei 
Medici to convey a lyre to the Duke of Milan. This and other 
considerations point towards the end of 148 1 as the most probable 
date of Leonardo's arrival in Lombardy. II Moro may, however, 
have been the first to move in the matter, as Leonardo speaks of 
himself as "the man whom my lord the Duke summoned from 
Florence to carry out his work". The remarkable letter, in 
which Leonardo offered his services to Lodovico and in which 
he so confidently proclaimed his powers as a military and 
hydraulic engineer, as architect, sculptor and painter, was prob- 
ably written after his arrival in Milan, when the outbreak of 
the War of Ferrara would render his military talents especially 
valuable to the Government. In the concluding words of the 
document Leonardo declared himself able "to undertake the 
work of the horse, that will be to the immortal glory and 
eternal honour of my lord your father, of happy memory and 
of the illustrious House of Sforza". 2 This refers to the 
equestrian statue of Duke Francesco, which formed Leonardo's 
chief work during the first years of his stay in Milan. The 
idea of such a statue had originated under Galeazzo Maria, 
but hitherto all attempts to carry It into execution had failed. 
Now II Moro had set his heart upon something quite unique, 
and it seemed doubtful whether even Leonardo would be able 
to cope with the task. The difficulty of casting a model in 

1 Miintz, E., Leonardo da Vind, vol. i., p. 102. London: Heinemann, 

2 From the Codice Atlantico. Cf. Home, H, P,, Leonardo da Vinci. Artists' 

Library, 1903. 

ART 281 

bronze upon so large a scale appears to have made Leonardo 
abandon his first effort. In 1493, however, a second model 
was completed and was placed under a triumphal arch in the 
Piazza of the Castello on the occasion of Bianca Maria's mar- 
riage. All were loud in praise of the magnificent statue. 
w Guarde pur come e bello quel cavallo" sang Baldassare 
Taccone in his poem written to celebrate the wedding. Milan, 
according to Lancino Curzio's epigram, looked eagerly forward 
to the great day when the bronze would flow into the clay and 
all with one voice would extol the completed statue as a thing 
divine. 1 This day never came. The descent of the French 
upon Italy strained the resources of Milan to the uttermost 
limit, and the expense of casting Leonardo's model was too 
great to be incurred. " I will not speak of the horse," Leonardo 
wrote sadly to his patron, " for I know the times." As late as 
1 501 the model was in existence, but from that time all record 
of it ceases. Tradition relates that Leonardo's masterpiece in 
sculpture, the result of long years of thought and labour, met 
its end as a target for Gascon archers. 

Leonardo was still at work upon the equestrian statue when 
he began to paint his "Last Supper" in the Refectory of S. 
Maria delle Grazie. Thus to II Moro belongs the lasting 
honour of having commissioned from the greatest genius of the 
age his masterpiece both in painting and in sculpture. Many 
are the stories connected with Leonardo's work upon the 
"Cenacolo". Bandello describes in his Novelle how the artist 
would sometimes paint from sunrise to dusk without so much 
as pausing to eat or drink. Then, for several days, he would 
not put a touch to the picture, although he would spend an 
hour or two each day in contemplating and criticising it. It 
was during these hours of silent scrutiny, Leonardo once in- 
formed Lodovico, that he achieved the most Sometimes an 
idea would come to him while he was working at the statue, 
and Leonardo would hurry through the midday sun to S, 
Maria delle Grazie, paint two or three strokes and then depart. 
Bandello also tells how Matthias Lang, Cardinal of Gurk, once 

1 " Expectant animi, molemque futuratn 

Suspiciunt; fluat aesj vox erit: Ecce deus I" 


visited the Convent and questioned Leonardo as to the amount 
of his salary. He expressed great surprise on learning that the 
artist received 2,000 ducats besides the liberal presents which 
the Duke gave him from time to time. This was met, on 
Leonardo's part, by equal indignation at the Cardinal's failure 
to appreciate what was due to the high calling of art. As time 
went on even the Duke began to grow impatient, and in a 
paper of directions to Marchesino Stanga, dated 3oth June, 
I497, 1 he bade him " ask Leonardo the Florentine to finish his 
work on the wall of the Refectory, and to begin the painting 
on the other wall of the Refectory ". This last item refers to 
the portraits of Lodovico and Beatrice, of which traces may 
still be seen opposite to the Cenacolo. When at last the work 
was accomplished it amply justified all delay. Even the 
crumbling ruin that remains to-day is enough to show the 
immense superiority of Leonardo's Cenacolo over all other 
treatments of the subject. The picture has been described as 
portraying * c the effect of a word upon a group of men " 2 of 
various ages and temperaments. Fear, grief, astonishment, 
love, all find their expression among the Apostles when they 
learn that " one of you shall betray Me ". It is, indeed, the 
supreme example of Leonardo's own maxim: "That figure 
is most to be praised which best expresses by its gesture the 
passions of the soul". Fate has dealt almost as hardly with 
the Cenacolo as with the equestrian statue. Louis XII.'s 
threatened attempt to convey wall and picture bodily to 
France was mercifully averted. Yet when Antonio de Beatis 
visited Milan in 1517, he wrote in his diary that the picture 
was already beginning to spoil, " whether from the damp of the 
wall or from some other accident I do not know ", 3 From that 
day to this the process of decay has gone on, a standing wit- 
ness to the ill-fortune which attended the dearest enterprises of 
both artist and patron. 

Among other commissions given by II Moro to Leonardo 
were portraits of the Duke's two mistresses, Cecilia Gallerani 

1 C/. Cantu, Arch. Stor. Lorab., 1874, P* l8 4' 

2 Gronau, Leonardo, p. 119. London ; Duckworth, 1902. 

3 Die Reise des Kardinal$ Luigi 

ART 283 

and Lucrezia Ctivelli, a picture for Matthias Corvinus of Hun- 
gary, and " an altar-piece containing a Nativity which was sent 
by the Duke to the Emperor ".* None of these pictures have 
been satisfactorily identified, but it has been suggested that 
the altar-piece sent to Maximilian may have been the " Virgin 
of the Rocks" now in the Louvre. Leonardo originally under- 
took to paint this picture for the Church of S. Francesco In 
Milan, but some quarrel arose as to Its price, and the matter 
was referred to the Duke. It seems that the monks of the 
Confraternity refused to pay the sum which Leonardo asked 
and he therefore reclaimed his picture, while Ambrogio de 
Predis, who was already engaged upon the wings of the altar- 
piece, executed a replica of Leonardo's original for the Con- 
fraternity. The replica with the two side-panels remained 
at S. Francesco until they were brought to England and 
eventually to the National Gallery. According to this new 
suggestion, the original must have been bought by II Moro 
and sent to Maximilian at the time of his marriage with Bianca 
Maria, whence it passed at some later date into the French 
Royal Collection. 2 

Painting pictures formed, however, but one branch of 
Leonardo's manifold activities in II Moro's service. He de- 
corated the rooms of the Castello, he organised State pageants. 
His treatise on painting was written in Milan at Lodovico's 
request. He acted as the Duke's adviser on questions ranging 
from the designs suggested for the tiburio of the Cathedral to 
the most approved methods of irrigation. Thus the years 
which Leonardo spent in Milan were among the most fruitful 
in his career. Nowhere did his genius find so congenial an 
atmosphere or so wide a scope as at the Court which Isabella 
d'Este named " the school of the master of those who know ". 
Surrounded by admirers who were ready to take his work on 
trust, he had greater opportunity for making experiments than 
among the critical Florentines. His high conception of art 
prompted him to devote a great part of his time to its scientific 
and theoretical aspects, and in Lodovico II Moro he found a 
patron who possessed the patience and the discernment to 

2 Home, Leonardo da Vinci, p. 23. 


allow him to work in his own way. On the other hand, 
Leonardo was peculiarly suited to II Moro. Although natur- 
ally unwarlike, Lodovico knew that the military aspect of the 
State could not be neglected, and thus he recognised the value 
of a man who could invent "various and infinite means of 
offence and defence". So, too, Leonardo's knowledge of 
engineering was of great advantage to Lodovico in his plans 
for the material improvement of his dominions. Above all, 
Leonardo was a man of genius, and II Moro had that in him 
which could appreciate the height of his aims, He realised 
that Leonardo sought, in all he did, the supreme point where 
art and science join, where beauty becomes but the outward 
expression of truth. 

One more point of resemblance existed between Leonardo 
and Lodovico. Both artist and patron were in advance of 
their age, or, as Machiavelli would have it, they were unsuited 
to the times in which they lived. At a less unsettled period 
Lodovico would have been a more successful ruler and Leon- 
ardo would probably have been a more productive artist. The 
French invasions were perhaps the greatest misfortunes in both 
their lives. Although Leonardo lived to be honoured by two 
French kings, to travel in the Marches with Caesar Borgia 
and to win further triumphs as a painter, the twenty years of 
wandering which followed II Moro's fall could not but be 
disastrous to his art. " The Duke lost State, possessions and 
liberty and no work was completed for him," forms Leonardo's 
epitaph on his own career no less than on that of his great 

Some mention must be made of Leonardo's subsequent 
connection with Milan. In 1506 he was summoned thither by 
Charles d'Amboise, whose admiration for his works made him 
eager to know the artist personally. After staying for some 
time in the Lieutenant's house Leonardo was commanded to 
await the arrival of Louis XIL, who wished to employ him 
" for certain little pictures of Our Lady," and possibly for his 
own portrait Except for a short visit to Florence, Leonardo 
seems to have remained in Milan until 1512. Yet even Louis 
XI Us entreaties could not induce him to renounce the man of 

ART 285 

science for the artist, and the years were chiefly spent In 
research and experiment. Once again Leonardo visited Milan 
in the company of Francis I. This was in the winter of 1 5 1 5- 
1516, shortly before the artist left Italy never to return. 

Much time has been expended In the attempt to prove that 
Leonardo founded an Academy of Arts and Sciences In Milan. 
Yet not only Is there no conclusive evidence of such an 
Academy, but Its existence seems to accord 111 with Leonardo's 
somewhat erratic habits and with his dislike of being bound 
by restrictions or formalities of any kind. Even the pupils 
whom he gathered round him were rather friends and com- 
panions than professional apprentices. They included, on the 
one hand, Milanese nobles, such as Boltraffio and Melzi, and 
on the other hand, the graceful boy, Salai, who entered Leon- 
ardo's household as a servant, and to whom the master, charmed 
by his beauty, taught his own art. Nor was Leonardo's influ- 
ence confined to his direct pupils. It has been said, Indeed, 
that to paint in Milan during the early years of the sixteenth 
century was to paint in Leonardo's style. Many of his pupils 
and followers hardly exist apart from their great master. The 
pictures of Marco d'Oggiono, Gianpetrino, Cesare da Sesto, to 
take but a few examples, seem merely to represent certain 
aspects of Leonardo's art in an exaggerated form. To others, 
however, Leonardo's influence came as a phase in their career, 
aiding but not wholly controlling the formation of their style. 
Among these must be reckoned Giovanni Antonio Bazzi 
(Sodoma), Andrea Solari, Bernardino Luinl and Gaudenzio 
Ferrari. All four subjects of the House of Sforza by birth, the 
first left Milan when he was still young to mingle his Lombard 
ideals with those of Siena and Florence. The other three 
remained in the Duchy to keep the fires of art alive through 
years of warfare and of foreign domination. 

Next to Leonardo, the painter, who had the closest rela- 
tions with II Moro's Court, was perhaps Arnbrogio de Predis. 
From the year 1482 he held the official post of portrait-painter 
to the reigning House, and thus, despite his debt to Leonardo, 
he ranks rather as a contemporary than as a pupil. Most 
critics now agree in assigning to Ambrogio de Predis the 


beautiful portrait of a lady in the Ambrosiana Library, which 
was for long known as Beatrice d'Este by Leonardo. There is 
little doubt that the portrait represents Bianca Sforza, II 
Moro's illegitimate daughter, whose death in November, 1496, 
cast the first shadow over her father's prosperity. The com- 
panion portrait may well be that of her husband, Galeazzo 
San Severino. In 1493 Ambrogio de Predis went to Germany 
in the train of Bianca Maria Sforza in order to paint her por- 
trait and that of her affianced husband, Maximilian. Hence 
some confusion arose over the two Bianca Sforza, which was 
only dissipated by the discovery of genuine portraits of the 
Empress in Paris and Berlin. The connections which Am- 
brogio de Predis formed during this visit stood him in good 
stead. In 1502 the painter crossed the Alps for the second 
time in order to settle permanently at Innsbruck among the 
band of Sforza exiles gathered at Maximilian's Court. An- 
other popular portrait-painter of the day was Leonardo's pupil, 
Boltraffio. Although working more as an amateur than as a 
professional, he was employed by many of his fellow-nobles at 
the Court of Milan, and the fine portrait of Lodovico II Moro 
in the Trivulzio collection is by his hand. 

During the fir$t French occupation Andrea Solari held a 
position closely resembling that of Court portrait-painter. The 
younger brother of Cristoforo II Gobbo, he came of an artistic 
Milanese family who had done great things in the service 
of the Sforza Dukes. Andrea himself received his education 
first in the old Lombard school and then in Venice, from whence 
he returned in 1493 to fall beneath the spell of Leonardo. The 
combined effect of these influences showed itself in highly 
finished and finely modelled porti-aits, often enriched by charm- 
ing landscape backgrounds. After the fall of II Moro, Solari 
came under the notice of Charles and Georges d j Amboise, who 
became his most constant patrons. Charles d* Amboise is prob- 
ably represented in Solaris portrait of a man, in the Louvre, 
with a view of the Alps as seen from Milan in the background. 
The Cardinal, after failing to secure Leonardo's services, took 
Solari to France, where he decorated the Chapel of Chiteau 
Gaillon. Portraits of Caesar Borgia, Girolamo Morone and 


Mh'ofera Ambrosiana, Milan 

ART 287 

Massimiliano Sforza are also attributed to Solan, who lived 
in Milan long enough to see both the sons of II Moro upon the 
ducal throne. 

While the artistic influences of the Sforza Court spread 
across the Alps by means of such men as Solari and De 
Predis, they were also felt through the length and breadth of 
the Duchy. No school of painting, for example, was more 
local than that of Lodi, where successive generations of the 
Piazza family reigned supreme. Yet Bertino Piazza assisted 
in the decoration of the Court of Arengo for Francesco Sforza, 
while his sons were among the vast concourse of artists from 
all the subject-towns who came at Lodovico j s orders to decorate 
the ballroom of the Castello on the occasion of his wedding. 
Such visits brought the local craftsmen into touch with the 
general world of art, and they seldom failed to leave traces 
upon their work. In other instances the connecting link was 
supplied by means of foreign artists, who were recommended to 
the subject-towns by the Sforza Dukes. Lodovico II Moro 
wished at one time to employ some fresh artist in the decoration 
of the CastellOj and on writing to Florence to ask who would be 
fitted for such a task, the name of Perugino was among those sub- 
mitted to him. The attempt to bring Perugino to the Castello 
proved unsuccessful, but through Lodovico's recommendation 
his services were secured both for the Certosa and for the Church 
of S. Agostino in Cremona. While working in Cremona, Peru- 
gino exercised a profound influence over the native artist 
Boccacio Boccaccino, who formed the leading representative 
of the local school, and whose traditions lived on in his pupils 
through the greater part of the sixteenth century. 

During the last thirty years of the Sforza era, art flourished 
chiefly among the local schools, and among painters whose work 
lay in quiet towns remote from the distracted capital. The most 
prominent artists of the day were Luini and Gaudenzio Ferrari, 
two natives of Northern Lombardy, of the district of lakes and 
of mountain valleys. Both had been trained in Milan in the 
days of its splendour. Both drew their inspiration in the first 
instance from Borgognone and Bramantino, and later from 
Leonardo. Yet Luini executed his best frescoes, "as he was 


required, and for sufficient daily bread," 1 in the churches of 
Saronno, Como and Lugano, while Gaudenzio's masterpieces 
must be sought at Varallo and Vercelli in his own Valsesia. As 
the charm of Luini's clear colouring and sweetness of expression 
reached its full perfection, his work became greatly in vogue 
throughout the Duchy. He was employed at the Certosa, by 
the Confraternity of the Holy Crown and by various private 
families in Milan. Among the most interesting of recent dis- 
coveries is the series of frescoes, containing no less than fourteen 
Sforza portraits, painted for the Delia Tela family, and now 
generally ascribed to Luini. 2 They are held to date from the 
years 1521-25, when Luini was most active in Milan, and when, 
too, the fortunes of the House of Sforza had experienced a tem- 
porary revival. Thus the portrait of Francesco IL, a man of 
about thirty, with delicate features, keen eyes, and a short dark 
beard, must be contemporary, while for the others Luini prob- 
ably had recourse to medals, aided in many cases by his own 
memory. For Muzio Attendolo, the founder of the House of 
Sforza, Luini could only paint a typical condottiere, while the 
name of Beatrice d'Este is given to the artist's idea of a beautiful 
woman. On the other hand, Massimiliano's receding chin and 
vacant expression, or the tightly compressed lips of the crafty 
Cardinal Ascanio, may well have been seen and remembered 
by Luini. About the same period Luini was employed in the 
Church of S. Maurizio at Milan by Alessandro Bentivoglio, the 
son of the exiled ruler of Bologna. In the lunettes upon 
either side of the high altar are kneeling figures representing 
Bentivoglio and his wife, Ippolita Sforza, each surrounded by 
three attendant saints. 

Gaudenzio Ferrari's connection with the historic events of 
his day was even slighter than that of Luini, and such as it 
was, it came through the enemies of the House of Sforza. 
When after the battle of Marignano Francis I. held his Court 
at Pavia, and tried for a brief moment to revive the golden age 
of II Moro, Gaudenzio was among the artists who were sum- 
moned thither. Some years later Gaudenzio was working on 

1 Ruskin, Queen of the Air. 

2 Beltrami, L., La Serie atellana degli Sforza. Rassegna d'Arte, 1903. 

ART 289 

the Sacro Monte at Varallo when the French and Imperial 
armies were skirmishing in the neighbourhood. Hence the 
German and Hungarian soldiers, whom he saw among Charles 
V.'s troops, were reproduced in his frescoes, and with them a 
noble with a fleur-de-lys garter, who may be intended to repre- 
sent Bourbon. Gaudenzio Ferrari was a far more original 
painter than LuinL He showed great dramatic power, and his 
faults were all in the direction of exaggeration. Lulni's charm, 
on the other hand, lay in harmonious colouring and in the 
loveliness of individual figures, while the effect of his work as 
a whole was often spoiled by want of unity and small power 
of imagination. Both perhaps suffered from the absence of 
fellow-artists, who could criticise and inspire their work, from 
being, in short, the last survivals of a great age. Gaudenzio 
Ferrari, at any rate, outlived both the Sforza dynasty and all 
that was best in Lombard art. During the last years of his 
life (1536-46), when Gaudenzio had settled in Milan, as the 
acknowledged head of the Lombard school, Francesco Sforza 
was dead, and France and Spain were haggling over the Duchy. 
His pupils and followers in the local school of Vercelli painted 
on in his style throughout the century, but no master arose to 
breathe fresh life into their-work. In Milan, as in other Italian 
States, art and independence passed out of existence together. 



THE literature of the Sforza period is not, In itself, of first- 
class importance. In spite of great .literary activity 
and of wide appreciation of learning in all its branches, Milan 
produced no man-of-letters who could lay claim to genius, no 
humanist of the first order, no poet who possessed higher 
qualities than those of grace and charm. When Francesco 
Sforza began his reign, humanism, In the vigour of its youth, 
had permeated every phase of Italian society. The scholar 
who could apply his facility in Latin prose composition to the 
production of diplomatic documents met with an eager wel- 
come at the chief Italian Courts. The art of polite letter- 
writing took Cicero for its model. Knowledge of Greek and 
the possession of Greek manuscripts were, in themselves, titles 
to fame. In this general enthusiasm for the classics Milan 
had her full share, yet her own contribution to learning was 
small. Of the humanists who frequented the Sforza Court 
Francesco Filelfo by far surpassed his companions. Filelfo, 
however, was not Milanese by birth, nor was Milan exclusively 
the city of his adoption. After visiting almost all the Courts 
of Italy, he eventually made Milan his headquarters, attracted 
thither by a high salary and by the absence of rivals who could 
deprive him of the monopoly of renown. Again, when during 
the reign of Lodovico Italian poetry burst into fresh life, it 
was Bernardo Bellincione, a minor poet of Florence, who 
became the pioneer of native poetry in Milan. Thus, from 
the standpoint of literature, Milan under the House of Sforza 
is chiefly Interesting as a type of the country and of the age t 



Her Dukes and Duchesses, who were themselves no mean 
scholars ; her secretaries of State, whose very office demanded 
that they should be intelligent patrons of learning ; her Court, 
where literary disputations were a recognised form of entertain- 
ment all alike stamped Milan with the hall-mark of Renais- 
sance Italy. 

In the sphere of letters the era of the Visconti had been 
by no means barren of result. The University of Pavia, in 
1450, already held a high place among centres of learning both 
on account of its magnificent library, founded under Petrarch's 
auspices, and through the special prominence which it gave to 
the study of law. Owing to the great reputation which the 
University had acquired in this last respect, there were few 
Italian lawyers of note who did not visit Pavia at some stage 
in their career. The pre-eminently legal traditions of the 
University had, however, prevented the rapid growth of 
humanism within its precincts. While the chief posts of honour 
and the highest rewards were reserved for lawyers, the human- 
ist could only aspire to the Chair of Rhetoric, which was 
occupied at the time of Francesco Sforza's accession by 
Lorenzo Valla with the modest income of fifty ducats. The 
small part played by the University in the humanistic move- 
ment was counter-balanced by the influence of the Court. 
Filippo Maria Visconti liked to act as a patron of learning, 
and while his favourite hobby was the study of medicine, he 
also gathered round him a considerable number of humanists. 
Gasparino and Guinforte Barzizza succeeded each other in the 
office of ducal orator and letter-writer. Pier Candido De- 
cembrio acted as Filippo Maria's secretary. The oifer of a 
salary of 700 ducats succeeded in bringing Filelfo to the Court 
of Milan. 

Policy and taste alike prompted the Sforza Dukes to carry 
on the work of their predecessors in the sphere of letters. 
Within a few years of his accession, Francesco Sforza had won 
to his side all the chief humanists who had been in the service 
of Visconti at the time of his death, and this, notwithstanding 
the part played by two of their number as champions of the 
Ambrosian Republic. Both Francesco Filelfo and Pier Can- 


dido Decembrio were drawn into the political conflict which 
raged round Milan during the years 1447-50. Filelfo wielded 
his pen in the Republican cause, receiving a handsome salary 
from the Government as the price of his support. According 
to some authorities, Decembrio was one of the Captains and 
Defenders of the Republic, and he certainly acted as its secre- 
tary. In this capacity he negotiated with ^Eneas Sylvius for 
the cession of Milan to the Emperor, and he was active in 
soliciting the aid of other Powers against the enemies of the 
city-state. Yet, even though Filelfo and Decembrio ranked 
among its supporters, humanism can hardly be regarded as a 
factor in the Republican movement in Milan. The readiness 
with which both scholars made their peace with the new 
dynasty goes far to prove that their championship of the 
Ambrosian Republic was a matter of expediency rather than 
of principle. Filelfo, indeed, even while he was in the pay of 
the Republic, did not disguise the contempt with which he 
regarded it His attitude was determined by no enthusiasm 
for the cause of liberty, but chiefly by his friendship with Carlo 
Gonzaga. Hence, on Gonzaga's sudden transition to the side 
of Francesco Sforza, Filelfo prepared to follow suit. When 
Sforza entered Milan, the wily humanist was ready with an 
oration in his praise, and ere long Filelfo was once more 
basking in the favour of a prince-patron. In the person of 
Decembrio the Republic had a more whole-hearted supporter. 
Owing to the prominent part which he had played in public 
affairs, he deemed it advisable not to await Francesco Sforza's 
triumph but to seek " a haven of peace " in Rome shortly before 
the accession of the new Duke. 1 Yet the motives which 
prompted Decembrio's activity were patriotic rather than 
Republican. He had no share in the founding of the Re- 
public, owing to his absence from Milan on a diplomatic 
mission at the time of Filippo Maria's death. On his return 
he promised to show the same loyalty and devotion towards 
his country that he had formally shown towards his prince. 
His hostility was directed, not against a possible revival of the 

1 Borsa, M, ? Decembrio e VUrnanesimo in Lombartfid. Arch, Sto*. l/o*nfo,, 


Dukedom, but against Venice, and it was Sforza's alliance with 
the rival Republic that definitely ranged Decembrio on the side 
of his enemies. A year after Francesco's accession the human- 
ist wrote a poem in his honour, which he sent to Simonetta in 
the hope of ingratiating himself with the new dynasty. In 
1452 Decembrio was back in Milan, where his joy at finding 
his house and library uninjured cemented his reconciliation 
with the House of Sforza. The relations of Filelfo and 
Decembrio with the Ambrosian Republic serve to show that 
Italian scholars could not afford to read their classics too 
literally. Men such as Cola da Montana, who had lost favour 
at Court, might seek their revenge in preaching tyrannicide 
upon the authority of the ancients. Yet for the most part it 
was the cultured and wealthy tyrant rather than the struggling 
Republic which formed the ideal of the man-of-letters. 

When, in 1456, Francesco Sforza called Guinforte Barzizza 
back to Milan as the tutor of his son Galeazzo, the old circle of 
humanists was complete. From henceforth the Court of Milan 
furnished a characteristic picture of literary life at the time of 
the revival of learning, both in its weakness and also In its 
strength. Here, as elsewhere, the rivalries between individual 
scholars and their somewhat sordid struggles for preferment 
played a prominent part. On the other hand, side by side with 
much that was petty and undignified, there existed real enthu- 
siasm for learning and unflagging industry in its pursuit. The 
aim of every humanist was universality of knowledge. Filelfo 
made it his proudest boast that he had mastered the whole 
literature of the ancients, and that he could read and write both 
Greek and Latin with equal facility. Decembrio's epitaph in 
the Church of S. Ambrogio at Milan extols him as the author 
of no less than 127 books, extending over a wide range of 
subjects. Among these were biographies of Filippo Maria 
Visconti and of Francesco Sforza, which to-day constitute his 
chief claim to renown. In the eyes of his contemporaries, 
however, he was above all distinguished by the knowledge of 
Greek that he had acquired at first-hand from Chrysoloras. To 
these Grecian enthusiasts the fall of Constantinople came as a 
blessing in disguise. Francesco Sforza profited by the occasion 


to invite Constantme Lascaris to Milan, where he remained for 
some years as the tutor of the Duke's clever daughter, Ippolita. 
Other fugitive Greek scholars followed suit, thankful to impart the 
treasures of their language in exchange for the hospitality of the 
Court. The eagerness with which they were welcomed is seen 
In the following description of Demetrius Chalcondylas, who 
was lecturing in Milan between the years 1492-151 I. "I heard 
him," wrote one of his pupils, a with incredible pleasure, because 
he is a Greek, because he is an Athenian and also because he is 
Demetrio. He appears to represent in himself the knowledge, 
the manners and the grace of those famous Greeks. Seeing him 
you seem to see Plato/' l 

At the Court of Milan literary quarrels were rendered 
peculiarly bitter by the presence of Filelfo. (t He is calumnious, 
envious, vain and so greedy of gold that he metes out praise or 
blame according to the gifts he gets," 2 was the unpleasing 
description of a contemporary, and Filelfo' s behaviour in Milan 
justified his previous reputation. Although a liberal salary was 
assigned to him, the money was often irregularly paid. Hence 
Filelfo spent much of his time in writing complaints and 
threats to the Duke and his ministers, varied by begging 
letters to other patrons of learning, from whom he hoped to ex- 
tract a gift or a pension. Francesco Sforza was not yet sure 
enough of his position to expose himself lightly to the venom of 
Filelfo' s pen, and he exerted himself to satisfy the fiery human- 
ist until at least the Sforziad should be completed. This was an 
epic poem, or rather a chronicle in verse of Francesco's doings 
from the year 1447, of which only the first eight books were pub- 
lished. As a work of art the Sforziad had little to commend 
it, yet it served to spread Francesco's fame throughout Italy 
as the patron and hero of one of the most celebrated scholars 
of the day. Incidentally, the Sforgiad became the vehicle for 
Filelfo' s invective against his rival Decembrio, who figured in 
the poem as a fierce opponent of the House of Sforza. Decem- 
brio retorted by epigrams, which deplored the Duke's misfor- 
tune in having " a greedy ignoramus " 8 in his service. Meanwhile 

1 Tiraboschi, G., Storia ddla Utteratura italiana* Florence, 1805-13. 

2 Cf. Rosmini, Vita di Filelfo, vol. ii., p. 147. 

3 Borsa, Decembrio e V Umanesitno. 


he presented the Duke with an Illuminated copy of his bio- 
graphy and translated the Lives of Joseph and Tobias for the 
Duchess, assuring her that they would prove "cheering food for 
sick persons". 1 Nevertheless, Filelfo remained the reigning 
favourite, and his slanders eventually drove Decembrio from the 
Court. The death of these two great antagonists did not bring 
peace to Milan. Lodovico II Moro and his secretaries spent 
much valuable time in the vain attempt to heal the feud be- 
tween Giorgio Merula and the Florentine, Poliziano.. Later 
again, the humanists Parrasio and Minuziano competed for the 
favour of Louis XII. 2 Their lecture-rooms became the scene 
of mutual recriminations, and on the occasion of a temporary 
reconciliation, Parrasio naively congratulated his pupils upon 
no longer being obliged to listen to abuse of his rival. Eventu- 
ally the French Government sided with Minuziano. There- 
upon Parrasio, who had first won notice by his eulogy of Louis 
XI L, left Milan for good, cursing the French as "stupid bar- 
barians ". Such unedifying episodes were largely due to the 
entire dependence of men-of-letters upon Court patronage. 
Living as they did from hand to mouth, the loss of a patron 
involved loss of daily bread. Hence they must needs use their 
pen to crush rivals and to convince princes of their power both 
to aid and to injure the State. The result was a close connec- 
tion between literature and politics, eminently characteristic 
of the age. During Lodovico Sforza's struggle for supremacy 
both he and Simonetta had their literary champions, who 
hurled abuse at one another in support of their rival patrons. 
The epigram and the satire, no less than the dagger and the 
poisoned cup, found their place among the political weapons of 
the day. 

Little original work of any permanent value was produced 
at the Court of Milan during the reigns of the two first Sforza. 
The task of Filelfo and his contemporaries consisted almost 
entirely in exploring new fields and in rendering Greek and 
Latin authors accessible to the students of their own day. A 
man-of-letters who possessed a good memory, the gift of Ian- 

1 op. dt. 

2 Delaruelle, Le sfy'our & Milan d'Aulo Giano Parrasio. Arch. Stor. Lomb., 


guages and capacity for work might reasonably expect to win 
fame as a humanist even though he were entirely lacking in 
creative or critical faculty. Thanks, however, to the efforts of a 
generation of scholars, learning became the common property 
of their successors. From the point of view of literature, Milan 
passed before the end of the century from the schoolroom to the 
University. An intimate knowledge of the classics ceased to be 
an end in itself, and became, instead, the foundation of original 
work on the part of critic, poet or historian. 

John Addington Symonds has spoken of the period in the 
history of learning, which corresponds roughly with the last 
quarter of the fifteenth century, as the Age of Academies. 
Milan, although without any such definite literary organisation 
as the Platonic Academy at Florence, had nevertheless entered 
upon a phase which bears out this definition. Under the 
auspices of Lodovico II Moro the Court of Milan became itself 
a form of Academy. Thither gathered illustrious men from 
all parts of Italy, of varied rank and of still more varied talents. 
Greeks, Venetians, Florentines, nobles, secretaries, lawyers, 
professors, met there on equal terms, drawn thither by the 
Duke's generous patronage and united by the common bond 
of their literary enthusiasm. Comparatively few of the Court 
circle were natives of the Duchy. Gaspare Visconti, the re- 
fined soldier and courtier, whose poetic gift crowned many 
other accomplishments, was, with the exception of the historian 
Corio, practically the only Milanese. The subject-towns were 
represented by Merula, the peppery humanist of Alessandria, 
by Franchino Gaffuri of Lodi, the first occupant of II Moro's 
newly founded Chair of Music, and by Antonio Fregoso, the 
soldier-poet of Genoa. Of those drawn from beyond the 
limits of the Duchy, Leonardo da Vinci and Bramante of 
Urbino stood foremost among the brilliant assembly. Both 
were gifted with something approaching universal genius. 
Enough has already been said of Leonardo's wide knowledge, 
eloquent conversation and attractive personality to show the 
vast influence which he exercised upon every form of literary 
activity. Bramante, although he pleased to describe himself 
as "senga lettere" was skilled in mathematics, and he also 


won fame at the Court as a writer of sonnets. In one of the 
literary disputes which II Moro loved, Bramante joined with 
the Duke and Duchess in upholding the supremacy of Dante 
against the more popular Petrarch. Luca Pacioli of Borgo 
San Sepolcro, who came to Milan in 1496, was reputed to be 
the greatest mathematician of the age. The first chapters of 
his book De Divina Proportione, were devoted to the praise of 
II Moro and to a description of the famous men gathered at 
his Court. Although the book was not printed until 1509, 
in Venice, the manuscript edition, illustrated by Leonardo, 
was presented to Lodovico for " his most worthy , library, 
already adorned with an innumerable multitude of volumes of 
every kind ".* The Kingdom of Naples was represented by 
Serafino Aquilano, who delighted the Court by his improvi- 
sations upon the lute and by singing songs of his own composi- 
tion. Niccolc da Correggio, who, like his friends Gaspare 
Visconti and Antonio Fregoso, divided his allegiance between 
the sword and the pen, formed one of the many links between 
Milan and his native Ferrara. His mother was the illegiti- 
mate daughter of Niccol6 d'Este, and her second husband was 
Francesco, Sforza's bastard son, Tristano. Thus young Niccoli 
probably grew up In his stepfather's house at Milan. He 
afterwards took service under the Duke of Ferrara, but when 
his cousin, Beatrice d'Este married Lodovico II Moro, her 
Court became his headquarters and her pleasure the shrine 
upon which his varied gifts were offered. Among other dis- 
tinguished strangers were the Venetian ambassador, Ermolao 
Barbaro, who combined the functions of a diplomatist with 
those of a man-of-letters, the Florentine poet, Bellincione, and 
the Athenian scholar, Chalcondylas. 

Such was the gifted company gathered at the Court of 
Milan during the closing years of the fifteenth century. It is, 
perhaps, not too much to say that this group of courtiers 
enjoyed the chief advantages of an Academy while avoiding 
its characteristic defects. Thanks to the daily intercourse of 
cultured minds, the Court circle possessed to the full the 
critical and scientific spirit which distinguished the period. 
1 Tiraboschi, of. cit. 


At the same time the very informality of the gatherings gave 
to the intellects of Milan a freshness and a spontaneity which 
were often lacking in the graver and more fastidious Aca- 
demicians of Florence. Typical of the atmosphere of the 
Court is the story connected with the (first appearance of 
Poliziano's Miscellanea in Milan. Going to his work as secre- 
tary one morning, Jacopo Antiquario found . all his clerks 
neglecting the Duke's business while they poured over the loose 
sheets of some newly published book. The secretary inquired 
what the new book was, and on hearing that it was the 
Miscellanea, he too forgot the Duke's business. Sitting down 
at the clerk's desk Antiquario began to read as eagerly as they, 
only pausing to send to the bookseller's stall for another copy 
of the work. No less characteristic is the zeal with which 
men of various professions studied the theoretical and scientific 
side of their work, Soldiers, such as Pietro Monti, turned 
from their active life to devote themselves to the study of 
tactics. Leonardo da Vinci maintained that the theory of 
painting should be nothing short of the " universal science of 
the visible," and that the fully equipped artist must have 
studied not only perspective and anatomy but all forms of 
natural science. In every sphere of knowledge, authority and 
convention were pushed aside in the general quest for truth 
that was drawn from experience. 

Brilliant as was the Sforza Court, it did not absorb the 
entire culture of the Duchy. The University of Pavia was 
never more flourishing than in the days of II Moro, when 
it boasted some ninety professors and no less than 3,000 
students. In 1489 the various schools were united under one 
roof in the magnificent new Ateneo, built at Lodovico's orders. 
Seven years later the Duke exempted all professors from 
taxation. Francesco Sforza had the library rearranged and 
re-catalogued, while each successive Duke added books to the 
collection, until it was carried off to France by the admiring 
Louis XII, The new chairs which were founded at Pavia in 
no way lessened the ancient prestige of the University with 
regard to Law. Giasone del Maino, who was Professor of 
Civil Law at the time of II Moro's fall, was held to be the 


greatest lawyer in Italy. His fame spread even to the French 
Court, and when Louis XIL visited Pavia in 1507, he went to 
the University for the express purpose of hearing Giasone 
speak. With regard to the Duchy in general, the spread of 
learning was aided by the early introduction of printing. 
Milan, in this respect, stood far in advance of other Italian 
towns. Books were printed there for the first time in 1469, 
that is, in the same year as at Venice and only later than in 
Rome. Lascaris' Greek Grammar, which appeared in Milan 
in 1476, was the first Greek book to be printed in Italy, From 
these beginnings the art of printing advanced rapidly. Aless- 
andrip Minuziano set up a printing-press in Milan, and in 
1494 this alone produced twenty-two books, including complete 
editions of Cicero and Tacitus. 

The literary output of Milan during these years stands in 
marked contrast to her many advantages and to the general 
enthusiasm for letters which prevailed among her citizens* 
While every courtier dabbled in literature, men of genius were 
conspicuously lacking. There is no clearer proof of the low 
standard of poetic art in Milan than the esteem in which 
Bernardo Bellincione was held at the Court. In 1493, a year 
after Bellincione's death, Francesco Tanzio published a collec- 
tion of his poems with a dedication to the Duke of Milan, 
Here II Moro is praised for having brought to the Court " the 
merry poet, Bellincione, in order that by his graceful Florentine 
speech and his witty, terse and ready rhymes, he might teach 
our city to file and polish her somewhat rough tongue". 1 
Before the arrival of the Florentine poet, Tanzio declares, few 
people in Milan even knew what was meant by a sonnet By 
the time of his death there were many who not only under- 
stood the nature of sonnets but also composed them. Yet 
Bellincione was a mere Court verse-maker, with a tendency 
towards the burlesque. His productions were occasionally 
vulgar and more often hopelessly dull. Their chief interest 
to-day lies in Bellincione's intimate connection with II Moro, 
whose virtues the poet never tired of extolling, and whose 

iDina, A., Lodovico II Moro e Gian Galeazzo Sforza nel canzoniere di 
Bernardo Bellincione, Arch. Stor. Lomb., 1884, 


political relations formed a fertile subject for advice and com- 
ment on the part of his admirer. In the revival of Italian 
poetry, which proved an important development of the period, 
Bellincione was regarded in the light of a master by men of 
the younger generation, such as Gaspare Visconti and Antonio 
Fregoso. Yet in justice to Milan, it must be admitted that 
their poetic gifts were greatly superior to those of the Florentine. 
From a sonnet in which Gaspare Visconti modestly disclaims 
the honour bestowed on him, it transpires that many of his 
contemporaries preferred him to Petrarch. As might be ex- 
pected, Gaspare can ill bear the comparison. Nevertheless, 
his graceful sonnets and love lyrics reveal a refined, delicate 
and somewhat fantastic mind eminently characteristic of the 
Renaissance courtier. Typical of Gaspare at his best is the 
sonnet <s lo vidi belle, adorne e gentildame". 1 Here he de- 
scribes the ladies of the Court in their richly brocaded dresses, 
moving in slow and stately fashion through the dances of the 
day, each one pausing to press the hand of her lover and to 
exchange swift glances as they meet and part in the intricate 
measures of the dance. This and some of the sonnets ad- 
dressed to Beatrice d'Este have a peculiar charm which is lost 
in Gaspare's most ambitious work, Paolo e Daria, 

Beatrice d'Este's secretary, Vincenzo Calmeta, speaks of 
Niccol6 da Correggio, Gaspare Visconti and Antonio Fregoso as 
" tre generosi cavallieri? who adorn the Court of Milan by their 
presence. There is a close affinity in the work of these friends, 
and their poetry seems to sum up both the limitations and the 
merits of the period. All three sing chiefly of the sorrows of 
unrequited love, all three bewail the cruelty of fortune. Their 
poems are tinged with a graceful melancholy that never sinks 
into despair, with a refined sentiment that never rises to passion. 
Only rarely are they kindled with a spark of the Divine fire. 
Niccoli da Correggio gains an additional importance by the 
incentive which he gave to dramatic art in Milan. His pastoral 
play Cefalo, performed at Ferrara in 1487, was among the 
earliest of Italian dramas. Hence when II Moro opened a 
theatre at his own Court in 1493, he engaged Niccold da 

1 C/. Verri, P., Storia di Milano, vol. ii., p, 74. 


Correggio to write Mopsa e Daphne, the first piece to be per- 
formed there. In some of his poems, too, Niccolo rises to 
greater heights than his friends. More especially his own are 
his intense appreciation of natural beauty and his craving for 
the peace of country life which pursued him throughout his 
career as a soldier. The sonnet in which he lingers over the 

joys of 

Le solitarie selve ambrose e oscure 3 

has the true poetic ring. Yet the interest of his work to-day is 
historical rather than literary. Neither he nor his fellow-poets 
at the Court of Milan have stood the test of years. 

Among Lodovico II Moro's most persistent efforts for the 
advancement of letters was his attempt to obtain a complete 
and accurate history of Milan. The reign of Francesco saw 
the appearance of Leodrisio CrivelH's book on the early history 
of the House of Sforza, while Decembrio and Giovanni Simon- 
etta produced two excellent biographies of the first Sforza 
Duke. Lodovico, however, desired something that would 
weave the deeds of his own race into the general history of the 
Duchy. He originally chose Giorgio Merula for the task, but 
his death in 1494 interrupted him at the death of Azzo Visconti 
(1339). Tristano Calchi, who then took up the work, found 
himself obliged by Merula's many inaccuracies and omissions 
to begin afresh, with the result that he got no further than 
1323. Finally, Lodovico found a third historian in the person 
of Bernardino Corio. A most interesting letter of the year 
1497 has been preserved 2 in which the Duke commends to the 
bishops, abbots and lay officials in the district round the Lake 
of Como his servant Bernardino Corio who has been sent to 
"explore the ancient writings pertaining to the history and 
deeds of our ancestors ". All loyal subjects of the Duke are 
called upon to aid the historian by " freely opening all archives 
and libraries," and by giving him every facility for reading and 
making extracts, even to the extent of allowing him to take 
manuscripts to his inn, or, if need be, to Milan. Later on Corio 

1 Cf. Luzio-Renier, Niccolo da Correggio. Giornale Storico, vols. xxi., xxn. 
^Gabotto, F., Di Bernardino Corio ngtizie. Vita Nuova II,, No. 35, 1890, 


was supplied with a copyist at Lodovico's expense, and no pains 
were spared to render his book of real historical value. Un- 
fortunately, it was not in the Duke's power to make Corio a 
first-class historian. The Storia di Milano remains the standard 
history of the period, yet in the roughness of his style and in 
his frequent inaccuracies Corio compares most unfavourably 
with his Florentine contemporaries. With regard to poetry 
and history alike, the soil of Milan was elaborately prepared 
for production, but neither poet nor historian arose to take 
advantage of its fertility. 

The death of Beatrice d'Este, followed by her husband's 
ruin, broke up the literary circle of the Court During the first 
French occupation great efforts were made to preserve the 
traditions of the past. The brothers Georges and Charles 
d'Amboise, Etienne Poncher and Jeffrey Charles, each in turn 
endeavoured to act as a patron of letters and to fill the place 
that had been so brilliantly occupied by the Sforza Dukes. 
Yet only those scholars remained in Milan who could not find 
a more congenial asylum elsewhere. The gay camaraderie 
which had been the essence of II Moro's Court had gone never 
to return. Of the numerous writers who had benefited by 
Lodovico's patronage, some, such as the epigrammatist Lancino 
Curzio, now employed their pen to abuse the fallen Duke. 
Others, such as Pistoia and Vincenzo Calmeta, were glad to 
"waste a little ink in defending so illustrious a prince". 
During the troublous years of the early sixteenth century, 
memories of a youth spent at the Court of Milan in its glory 
lived on in the works of two among the most famous authors 
of the day. Sitting under the green pergola of Ippolita Benti- 
voglio's garden, Matteo Bandello loved to describe his experi- 
ences as a novice at S. Maria delle Grazie, when Leonardo was 
at work in the Refectory and when II Moro was constantly 
coming to visit his friends the monks. Tales of the illustrious 
men whom Bandello saw there and stories which he heard 
from Leonardo's lips were woven into the Novelle and dedi- 
cated to Ippolita, the only member of the House of Sforza who 
remained in Milan. So, too, Baldassare Castiglione, who went 
to Milan for purposes of education during the last years of 


Lodovico's reign, filled his Cortegiano with allusions to the 
people whom he met there and to the beauty and splendour 
of his surroundings. After wide and varied experience of 
Italian Court life, the impressions received in his boyhood did 
not fade. Beatrice d'Este found her place among the noble 
ladies described in the Cortegiano as famed alike for their 
beauty, their virtues and their talents. The company gathered 
round the Duke and Duchess in the Castello of Milan seemed 
to Castiglione " the flower of the human race ". l 


" It is not without reason that, among the principal cities 
of Italy, Milan has been entitled c /& grande\ . . . He who 
sees the size and number of her houses would think it im- 
possible to find sufficient people to fill them ; he, on the 
other hand, who considers the infinite number of her inhabit- 
ants must feel that there could not be enough houses to contain 
them." 2 So wrote a Venetian observer in the latter half of 
the sixteenth century, when the population of Milan had sunk 
to two-thirds of what it was before the days of foreign invasion, 
and when the greatness of the Duchy was commonly reputed 
to be a thing of the past. The picture which this Venetian 
gives of Milan is one of general prosperity, unmarred by traces 
of her former sufferings. The city is " the school of all manual 
arts," whither the other towns of Italy turn for instruction ; 
she is " the originator of pomp and luxury in apparel " ; she is 
possessed of an " infinite number of workmen in all mechanical 
trades ". Her citizens live chiefly by trade and manufacture, 
and her riches consist " in the participation of the many rather 
than in the wealth of the few". While only two or three 
families enjoy an income of over 20,000 crowns, a very large 
proportion possess from 2,000 to 3,000. All alike benefit by 
the fertility of the soil, which brings such abundance of pro- 
visions to Milan as to render her the " dispensary of Italy". 
The whole report forms an amazing testimony to the recupera- 

1 * It Castello di Milano, gi& ricettacolo del fior degli Uomini del Mcmdo. n 
Lettere Famigliari del Conte Baldessar Castiglione, vol. i,, jx 5. Padova, 1769, 
3 Alberi, E., Due relazioni di MilanOj etc. 


tive power of the Duchy, to resources which years of war, 
plague and misrule could not permanently cripple. Moreover, 
in the combination of manufacturing activity with agricultural 
advantages, it touches upon a distinguishing characteristic 
which affected every department of social life in the city. 

Two main industries formed the basis of Milan's prosperity 
as a manufacturing centre. Long before the days of the Sforza, 
Milanese armour was famed throughout the world, and the city 
boasted some hundred armouries from whence goods were 
despatched across the Alps to France, Switzerland and the 
Empire, or went eastward to be bought at high prices by the 
Saracens. Hardly less important was the woollen industry, 
which supplied Venice alone with cloth to the annual value 
of 120,000 ducats. These two trades brought others in their 
wake. As armour included the whole equipment of a knight 
and his horse, so the manufacture of woollen materials led 
on to that of the more costly fabrics necessary for the out- 
fit of a courtier. The silk weaver, the goldsmith, the manu- 
facturer of embroidery and of gold and silver cloth found a 
ready market for their wares in Milan. The artisans en- 
gaged in these numerous crafts worked, not for the consumer, 
but for the merchant. At first all Milanese merchants 
were banded together in one society, but as an industry 
developed, a separate organisation would arise, dedicated 
to this branch of trade alone. At the opening of the Sforza 
period, for example, the wool merchants were already dis- 
tinct from the universitas mercatorum. Ere long the society 
of gold, silver and silk merchants emerged, also enjoying its 
special privileges and governed by its own laws. 1 It was as 
merchants and bankers that great Milanese families, such as 
the Borromei, rose to power, and many a noble house grew 
wealthy through trade. Thus all classes in Milan were con- 
cerned in a more or less degree with commerce and industry ; 
society and laws alike proclaimed the overwhelming importance 
of the trade interest. 

If, however, all were traders, all were no less agriculturists. 
Fear of aggression, whether from soldiers or from robbers, 

*Verga, Arch. Stor. Lomb,, 1903* p. 66, 


rendered the existence of Isolated farm buildings almost Im- 
possible. Hence the country round Milan was divided Into 
small holdings, cultivated by people who returned to the city 
In the evening, bringing their cattle with them. Every mer- 
chant or lawyer had at least his little farm In which he invested 
his savings, and from whence he drew enough grain, oil, wine, 
cheese and milk to supply the needs of his family. So uni- 
versal was this system that it was recognised In the public 
holidays prescribed by the laws of Milan. S. Peter's Day, at 
the end of June, came at a convenient time for the harvest, while 
Michaelmas Day fell within the vintage season. Hence, for a 
couple of weeks round these two festivals, the law-courts were 
closed, business was suspended, and the citizens flocked out to 
their farms to superintend the ingathering of their crops. De- 
pending as they did on the fruits of their own cultivation, a good 
or a bad harvest was a matter of life and death to the citizens of 
Milan. Even in time of peace, a bad season brought famine In 
its train. On the other hand, after a good season, such as a 
chronicler describes In ISO3, 1 grain, fruit and wine could be had 
" in great abundance and very cheap," despite past wars and 
the continued presence of foreign soldiers In the Duchy. 

Among the various ways in which this fusion of agriculture 
and industry showed Itself in society, was the comparatively 
small Importance which it attached to the distinction between 
noble and non - noble. When Antonio de Beatis travelled 
through France in 1517, he was astonished at the privileged 
condition of the French nobility. They had, he thought, " more 
cause to thank God than any one else," it being certain that as 
Nature had made them noble by birth, they could not die of 
hunger nor practise " low trades " (arte vile}, " as they do for 
the most part In our country, where very few live as nobles, 
even if they have the means ". 2 If, on the one hand, the noble 
tended to identify himself with the trading interest, the mer- 
chant who invested his money In land joined hands with the 
feudal nobility. The aristocracy of Milan was one of wealth 
and not of birth. Social and political rivalry lay not between 

1 Paullo, A. da, Cronaca Milanese. 

2 Beatis, Die Reise des Kardinals Luigi d> Aragona. 


noble and non-noble, but between merchant and artisan, be- 
tween capital and labour- So, too, the curious mixture of great 
magnificence with primitive simplicity in the life of the day 
may perhaps be traced to the conflicting tendencies at work 
among a population which was at the same time manufacturing 
and agricultural. Visitors to Milan, whether Italian or ultra- 
montane, seldom failed to be impressed by the splendour of 
the ladies' dresses, often made entirely of cloth of gold, adorned 
with rich embroideries and loaded with jewels. All such ex- 
travagances were, indeed, forbidden by the sumptuary laws. 
No one of lower rank than the wife of a knight, a captain, a 
ducal councillor or a member of the College of Jurisprudence 
might wear cloth of gold, silver or brocade, except on her 
sleeves, nor sew her dresses with pearls. Low-cut gowns were 
forbidden to all classes alike. Yet there is much to show that 
these prohibitions were rarely enforced. If, for instance, the 
statutes condemning the use of embroideries had been rigidly 
enforced, an important Milanese trade would have been ruined. 
The luxury that was censured on moral grounds by a paternal 
Government was encouraged in the interests of a trading com- 
munity. Several modern inventions were legislated against in 
Milan some years earlier than in any other Italian city, a proof 
rather of her enterprise than of excessive zeal on the part of 
her sumptuary officials. In the new statute-book of 1498, a 
heavy fine was imposed upon any lady seen driving in a 
carriage through the streets of Milan. At Ferrara, laws 
against carriages first occur in 1514, and Antonio de Beatis 
speaks of the carriages which he saw in Milan in 1517 as of 
something entirely new and remarkable. 

It is an abrupt transition to turn from accounts of Milan's 
magnificence to provisions such as the following, which occurs 
among the regulations drawn up for the kitchen of the Castellc 
In 1485, "Item : That there shall always be good bread anc 
good wine provided for the family, so that if at any time there 
should not be enough of other things, these should not be lack 
ing ; and this both for the convenience of the family and fo: 
the honour of strangers arriving unexpectedly." 1 The though 

1 Beltrami, La Vita net Castello di Milano, p, 31, 


of the splendour-loving Lodovlco II Moro entertaining some 
foreign dignitary with " good bread and good wine " in default 
of more sumptuous fare, is strangely incongruous. Yet it is 
quite in accordance with the simple habits of life that prevailed 
throughout the Duchy. Wheaten bread was a luxury only 
known to a few, home-grown rye and millet being the ordinary 
fare. The vintage was trodden out on the several farms, where 
hired labourers claimed the right to the wine made from the 
dregs of the fermented grapes. Until the sixteenth century, 
when more conventional ideas were imported by the Spaniards, 
the most well-to-do families were content to perform the menial 
tasks of the household themselves. During the reign of Fran- 
cesco Sforza, frugal habits prevailed in the ducal establishment 
no less than in the city and territory, while even in later days 
the Court of Milan retained traces of its former simplicity. 
The Milanese nobility were called upon to lend their tapestries 
for Court festivities, and until 1474 the Duke boasted but a 
single canopy, which was moved to his various residences as 
the occasion required. Even then a new canopy was only 
ordered because the old one was in too dilapidated a condition 
to bear the journey from the Court of Arengo to the Castello. 
For all its outward pomp, the Castello of Milan must have 
been singularly lacking in comforts and conveniences. Except 
for the narrow spiral steps of the Torre delle Asse, the only 
means of communication between the upper and lower floor of 
the Corte Ducale was an external staircase. Stamegne, or 
linen windows, were used throughout the Castello and only 
renewed on great occasions. A room which served as a 
Council Chamber by day was turned into a bedroom at night 
The cold of the great draughty rooms in winter could have 
been no less intense than the heat in summer, which once 
forced the Secret Council to beg for a change of quarters, "the 
chamber ordinarily allotted to us being, at this season, so much 
exposed to the sun that we cannot remain there without great 
discomfort ", 1 

Despite much that was primitive in the ducal household, 
it is clear that luxury was on the increase throughout the 

1 Bdtrami, Castello. Doct, of April, 1496. 


Sforza period, and that the impulse in this direction sprang 
from the Court When II Moro instituted a reform of the 
statutes in 1498, many new sumptuary regulations were 
added, which had not been necessary on the promulgation of 
Gian Galeazzo Visconti's statute-book in 1396. The pre- 
amble bewailed the excessive expenditure which tended to im- 
poverish all classes and to act as a check upon matrimony. A 
special crusade was instituted against superfluous display at 
births and baptisms, which was declared to be a growing abuse. 
Gold or silver cradles and embroidered bed coverings were 
prohibited. The furniture of the bedroom must be simple ; 
the ladies visiting the mother must limit their gifts to eatables 
of the value of sixteen lire ; only plain fruit (fructus naturales} 
and cakes might be provided for their refreshment. Consider- 
ing the date of the prohibitions, the fashion for such extrava- 
gances may well be traced to the unwonted magnificence 
which had marked the birth of Beatrice d'Este's first-born in 
1493. A gilded cradle, a room hung entirely with crimson, a 
gorgeous quilt in mulberry brocade with the Sforza device, and 
a grand show of presents had been among the special features 
of the occasion. Another curious instance of the aping of 
Court manners is seen in the assertion of a contemporary 
writer, that black slaves became more numerous in Milan at 
the end of the fifteenth century, out of compliment to Lodovico 
II Moro. A certain number of eastern slaves had always been 
employed in Milan as domestic servants, but since the year 
1450 the slave trade had steadily declined. Now, however, no 
courtier was without at least one black page " because Lodovico 
Sforza, Duke of Milan, had himself nicknamed * II Moro' "^ 

The normal tendency of society in a capital to model itself 
upon the Court could not but be increased where the connec- 
tion between the two was as ^lose as in Milan. Prince and 
citizen took their pleasures together, performed their religious 
duties together, and enjoyed, in short, a freedom of intercourse 
that would have been impossible in a larger State. The daily 
life of Massimiliano Sforza began, from the tenderest age, with 
going to hear Mass at S. Maria delle Grazie. " Count Massi- 
1 Muralto, Annalia. Cf. Verga, Arch. Stor. Lomb., 1905, p. 188. 


miliano has adopted a very good manner of life," wrote his 
tutor, in October, 1496 ;* "he rises early in the morning and 
first has breakfast with one or two pieces of bread, as the doctors 
have ordered ; then I take him to S. Maria delle Gratia to see 
Mass, to His Highness's great delight" After dinner Massi- 
miliano would hunt in the park or pay visits in the city, while 
on wet days he and Francesco played together in the Sala della 
Palla. In 1497 the family party at the Castello received an 
addition in the person of Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, who was 
made Archbishop of Milan at the age of eighteen. He, too, 
was constantly to be seen in the city, sharing the occupations 
of his nephews. One day in Lent, 1498, during the Duke's 
temporary absence from Milan, his secretary wrote to him 
that the Cardinal and all the Court had been " to the preaching 
at S. Francesco ". In the afternoon Ippolito held audience, 
" where, however, there was little business doing," and later he 
attended a service at S. Dionisio, once more accompanied by 
the Court 2 On the Feast of the Annunciation Lodovico was 
informed that the Court had been to High Mass at the Duomo, 
and that the Cardinal had remained throughout the service, 
bearing himself " with his accustomed gravity and modesty ". 
It may well be that thoughts of the day's hunting at Cusago, 
which he had planned for the morrow, mingled with the 
devotions of this youthful ecclesiastic. In the eyes of the 
Duke, Cardinal Ippolito's whole-hearted devotion to the House 
of Sforza made him peculiarly suited for the office of Arch- 
bishop. He could, however, have done little to raise the 
religious life of Milan, which appears at this time to have 
reached a low ebb. Beatis contrasts "la poca religione" that 
was to be found in his own country with the crowded German 
and Flemish churches where " they do not talk of merchandise 
nor amuse themselves as in Italy, but occupy themselves solely 
with hearing Mass and saying their prayers, all kneeling". 3 
It is probable that Beatis' remarks were especially applicable 
to Milan. The city had experienced no such religious revival 

1 Milan, Archivio di Stato, Potenze Sovrane, Massimiliano, Vicende fersonaU. 

2 Archivio di Stato, Potenze Sovrane, Lodovico II Mow, Vicende fersonali, 

3 Beatis, op. cit., p. 107% 


as had Florence. Her commercial interest and her great out- 
ward magnificence alike tended to emphasise the material side 
of life. Piety among her citizens showed itself less in devo- 
tional fervour than in such practical good works as building 
hospitals and founding schools. 

In the letters which Lodovico received on the subject of his 
children, there is much that bears out Philippe de Commines* 
famous assertion that in Italy no great difference was made 
between legitimate and illegitimate. Lodovico's sons by Cecilia 
Gallerani and Lucrezia Crivelli were visited daily by one of the 
secretaries, and reports of their well-being were forwarded to 
II Moro in exactly the same way as Massimiliano and Fran- 
cesco were visited and reported upon. More than this, free 
intercourse was permitted between the sons of Beatrice d'Este 
and those of her rivals. " To-day," wrote Massimiliano to his 
father in June, 1498, ce I have visited Signer Cesare and Signor 
Gian Paolo, who are both well. To the aforesaid Gian Paolo 
I have given my wooden horse, in the saddle of which 'his 
lordship can hardly sit, being up to this time so big, fat and 
well-proportioned. With this and with our company, Signor 
Gian Paolo showed singular pleasure." l The recipient of the 
wooden horse was the son of Lucrezia Crivelli, and he must, 
at this date, have been just a year old. Writing from France 
in 1526 to Francesco, then Duke of Milan, Massimiliano men- 
tions " II Signor Gian Paolo, our common brother," whom he 
has regarded from the very day of his birth " as another self". 2 
But for Gian Paolo's sudden death in 1535 ^ seems most 
probable that he would have been allowed to succeed Francesco 
in the Dukedom. 

The separatism which distinguished the political relations 
between the various towns of the Duchy of Milan had its 
counterpart in social life. Manners, dress and even the 
physique of the inhabitants varied considerably between city 
and city. Both Jean d'Auton and Antonio de Beatis were 
struck by the golden hair which distinguished the ladies of 
Genoa from their Milanese sisters, while d'Auton noticed that 

1 Archivio di Stato, Potenze Sovrane^ 
* Cod. cit. C/. Appendix, 


It was worn In a peculiar style, being twisted like a crown 
round a little pad of linen. Genoese dresses were for the most 
part of white silk, made short enough to disclose white or red 
stockings with shoes to match. According to the French 
chronicler, the ladles were of medium height and rather 
plump, with round faces "very fresh and white" and good 
teeth. 1 The whole description forms a distinct contrast to 
that of the beauties of Milan. Here cloth of gold and crimson 
velvet formed the fashionable dress materials, while the ladles 
wore their hair falling half over their cheeks and then caught 
back Into a long twist in the peculiar style which can be seen 
in portraits of that date. To a certain extent, the influence of 
the Court warred against separatist tendencies. Representa- 
tives of the chief families of the Duchy held posts at the 
Castello, while State ceremonies brought people from all parts 
of the country to share in the gay doings at the capital. 
Nevertheless, local Interests and local traditions retained the 
first place throughout the Sforza era, and it was, indeed, their 
supremacy that lent much of its distinctive charm to the social 
life of the day. Confined within the narrow limits of the city 
boundaries, life in Milan was seen, as might be said, In Its 
concentrated "essence. Politics and Society, Art and Literature, 
had but one world In common, and a crisis In a single depart- 
ment had its effect upon all. Hence life could not but be 
intense, vivid, varied ; exposed, it Is true, to sudden disaster, 
but singularly free from monotony. 

1 Chroniques de yean d'Auton, vol. ii., p. 212. 



'~T n HE death of Francesco Sforza brought fresh perplexities 
JL to his imperial suzerain. Francis L might tolerate a 
native ruler under imperial protection, but he was not likely 
to acquiesce tamely in Charles V.'s assumption of direct con- 
trol over the Duchy. The Emperor, for his part, was well 
content to remain the virtual master of Milan, allowing another 
to enjoy the nominal authority. Yet, in the absence of direct 
heirs, there was no obvious successor to the dead Duke. Chris- 
tina bade the Milanese ambassador inform Charles V. that she 
had been promptly recognised as sovereign in her husband's 
stead, and that she was surrounded by wise and faithful coun- 
sellors, who would aid her in carrying on the work of govern- 
ment, pending further instructions from the Emperor. At the 
same time, loyal adherents of the House of Sforza wrote to 
express their jpy at the prospect of having Christina for their 
patron. The rule of his niece, however, unless it were accom- 
panied by her marriage with a native or a French prince, 
afforded no solution of Charles V.'s problem. After the failure 
of a scheme for the creation of a Hapsburg- Valols State under 
Christina and the Duke of Angoulme, the former left Milan 
to wed the Duke of Lorraine. This marriage closed Christina's 
brief career as Duchess of Milan, and it was only after various 
vicissitudes that she returned to Lombardy in 1557, to end her 
days in retirement at her dower town of Tortona, If there had 
been any member of the House of Sforza at all suited for the 
ducal throne, Charles would probably have been willing to 
consider his claims. But of all Francesco L J s legitimate des- 




National Gallery 


cendants, there remained only Bona, Duchess of Ban, the sole 
surviving daughter of Gian Galeazzo and Isabella, while she, as 
the wife of King Sigismund of Poland, had little concern in the 
affairs of Italy. The descendants of Francesco's brother, Bosio, 
Count of Santa Fiora, formed, indeed, a flourishing collateral 
branch of the family. Sforza, who became Count of Santa Fiora 
in I535> ba d been sent to the Court of his Milanese cousins to 
be trained as a soldier. On his mother's side Sforza was a 
Farnese, and now Pope Paul III. wrote to thank Christina for 
the care which she had bestowed upon his grandson, begging 
her to complete her kindness by recommending the boy to the 
Emperor. Yet no one could have imagined that Charles V. 
would invest a papal nifote of fifteen with the Duchy of Milan. 
Sforza probably obtained all that his friends expected for him 
when he was taken into imperial service, to become one of the 
most distinguished among Charles V.'s Italian soldiers. The 
only member of the House of Sforza who was seriously con- 
sidered as a successor to Francesco II. was Gian Paolo, Marquis 
of Caravaggio, the son of II Moro and Lucrezia Crivelli. On 
the death of the Duke, Gian Paolo at once set out for Rome in 
order to gain papal support for his claims. As he crossed the 
Apennines he was seized with sudden illness and he did not 
live to reach Rome. His infant son, Muzio, carried on the line 
of Caravaggio, but the father's death destroyed the last hope of 
seeing a Sforza Duke upon the throne of Milan. 

The next ten years were spent in fruitless negotiation for 
the settlement of Milan upon the basis of a Hapsburg-Valois 
marriage. It was during this period that Charles V., exas- 
perated at Francis I.'s refusal to come to terms, offered to 
engage his rival in personal combat with Milan and Burgundy 
as the stakes of the duel. The challenge had no practical 
result, and in 1540 the French King once more broke off 
negotiations on what appeared to be the eve of a permanent 
settlement. Thereupon Charles invested his son Philip with 
the Duchy of Milan. His action did not, however, prevent the 
question from being reopened at the Treaty of Crespi, when it 
was decided that Angoulme, now the Duke of Orleans, should 
rule Milan in conjunction with a Hapsburg princess. His 


death in 1 545 preserved the Duchy for Philip, and ushered in 
the period of Spanish domination in Milan. 

In his desire not to increase the apprehensions of those 
who looked with suspicion upon any advance of the imperial 
power in Italy, Charles made as few changes as possible in 
Milan upon the death of Francesco Sforza. Leyva realised a 
long-standing ambition in becoming Lieutenant-General, but 
he was not allowed to indulge his despotic tendencies. Massi- 
miliano Stampa, a loyal servant of the House of Sforza, re- 
tained his post as Castellan, while Taverna, the most trusted 
adviser of Francesco's last years, was Chancellor until his death 
in 1560. Charles Ws Constitutions, promulgated in 1541, did 
little more than confirm the Code of Laws which had been 
compiled at Francesco's orders from the ducal decrees. In 
cases for which the Constitutions did not provide, the old 
Statutes of Milan still held good. Even when Philip finally 
became master of Milan, the transition to Spanish rule was 
made less abrupt by the appointment of Ferrante Gonzaga as 
Lieutenant-General. Although Ferrante was not very popular 
in the Duchy, the interest which he took in adorning and im- 
proving the capital made him at least acceptable. During the 
eight years of his governorship (1546-54) Spanish customs 
and influences advanced but slowly. Yet the gradual way in 
which the Spanish domination came about, did but bind Milan 
more firmly beneath its yoke. By the middle of the century 
the rule of the Spaniard was generally recognised as the only 
solution of the Milanese problem. According to Italian 
opinion, Spain was less dangerous than either France or 
Germany, because she was not such a near neighbour. At the 
same time the power of Spain was sufficient to strike awe into 
the native States, and to check their attempts at aggression. 
Of an independent Duke there was no longer any question. 
The idea that Milan should regain her lost autonomy and 
should rank once more among the native States of Italy was 
regarded as "vain to desire and impossible to attain". 1 

The century and a half of Spanish domination forms the 
most dreary episode in the history of Milan. From Leyva to 
1 Alberi, E. T Due r^azioni di Milano^ etc, 


the Prince of Vaud^mont, who was driven from Milan by 
Eugene's victorious army in 1706, no less than forty-nine 
governors upheld the authority of Spain in the Duchy. While 
this constant succession of rulers checked the development of 
native or individual characteristics in the administration, the 
distance from the central government enabled each Lieutenant 
to act as an irresponsible sovereign during his tenure of office. 
"He followed no other law save his own will/' 1 is VerrFs 
verdict upon Fuentes, whom he previously acknowledges to be 
the best of all the Spanish governors in Milan. The pressure 
of taxation weighed heavily upon all classes of society, the 
more so as the taxes were often farmed to Genoese traders, 
" greedy people and hated by the Milanese". During the 
seventeenth century Milan bore the brunt of the war between 
France and Spain, when a French army again marched upon 
the Duchy, and when Mazarin followed the policy of Francis I. 
in stirring up the Este Dukes of Modena against their Spanish 
neighbours. In 1576, and again in 1630, Milan suffered from 
terrible outbreaks of plague. Internal faction was intensified 
rather than suppressed by foreign rule. Spanish etiquette and 
Spanish susceptibility to insult provided fresh occasion for 
quarrels, while the weakness and partiality of justice gave 
wider scope for their prosecution. Nobles hired bravi to per- 
form their acts of vengeance, and, although the severest 
penalties were imposed upon crimes of violence, only a small 
proportion of wrongdoers suffered punishment. Amid the 
general insecurity, the custom of seeking the protection of a 
lord increased rapidly, giving fresh power to those whose pro- 
tection was sought, and creating interminable feuds among the 
several protectors. 

Despotic as was its nature, the absolutism of Spanish rule 
was mitigated by the ancient rights and privileges of the Duchy. 
Throughout the seventeenth century Milan never wholly 
lost her traditions of self-government The leading families 
in the city were represented in the Senate, which theoretically 
retained its old powers, although in practice it was largely over- 
shadowed by the Lieutenant and his Secret Council. The 

o^ vol, ii, 


Council of Sixty, composed of representatives from the six 
gates, could claim descent from the ancient Council of Nine 
Hundred, while it exercised that share in the city elections in 
which it had been confirmed by the Constitutions of 1541. In 
1543 a Congregation of State was formed of representatives 
from the chief towns of the Duchy, which carried on the 
administration during the frequent absence of the supreme 
authorities through the exigencies of war. At a time when the 
chief functions of Government were conducting trials and levy- 
ing taxes, and when the caprice of the Lieutenant over-rode all 
law, these semi-popular institutions could not do much practical 
service. Isolated instances, such as the resistance made by the 
Council of Sixty to the introduction of the Inquisition, the 
vigorous action of the Vicar of Provision in dealing with the 
plague of 1576, or the refusal of Cremona to contribute towards 
a gift to the Spanish monarch, alone testified to the survival of 
independent municipal life. Nevertheless, the mere presence 
of native organisation prevented the subjugation of Milan from 
being as complete as that of Naples, while it kept alive some 
spirit of independence In the darkest hours of foreign op- 

The one person in Milan strong enough to offer effective 
resistance to the Spanish Government was the Archbishop. 
Traditions of a day when the Archbishop had been the virtual 
ruler of the city still gave prestige to the occupant of the See 
of Milan, while the observance of the peculiar Ambrosian rite 
in the Milanese Church brought with it a certain independence 
of papal control. During the period of Spanish domination the 
pretensions of the Archbishop were pressed to the uttermost by 
those two remarkable members of the Borromeo family, who, 
but for a ten years' interval, occupied the Archieplscopal See 
from 1559 urvt ^ 1631. " I do not send you as governor of the 
province of Milan, but as minister to Carlo Borromeo," l Philip 
II. is held to have said, on appointing the Duke of Terranuova 
to the office of Lieutenant-General. The story, at least, serves 
to illustrate the position which the Archbishop won for himself 
in the Duchy. From the moment of his arrival in Milan he 

1 iBonfadmi f R., Milano nei $uoi momenti stoncL 2 vols., Milano, 1885. 


waged war upon the secular authority in support of the claims 
of the Church. Terranuova's predecessor, Requesens, was ex- 
communicated for denying the Archbishop's right to penal 
jurisdiction. The President of the Senate was cited to Rome 
for protesting against Borromeo's insistence upon the immunity 
of his household from punishment in the secular courts. At 
the same time Borromeo showed his entire freedom from mo- 
tives of self-seeking by renouncing three-quarters of his revenue 
and by throwing himself heart and soul into the fearful struggle 
with the plague. It is no wonder that a man at once so single- 
minded and so intrepid proved the arbiter of Lombardy. If 
Carlo Borromeo represents the mediaeval type of saint, Federico 
is no less typically modern. One of his first acts was to make 
a Concordat with the Spanish governor, which terminated the 
feud between the ecclesiastical and civil authorities. During 
the plague of 1630 he worked with the Committee of Health to 
discover the causes and remedies of such epidemics. His name 
is to-day chiefly connected with that zeal for learning to which 
the Ambrosiana Library bears permanent witness. Yet, al- 
though Feclerico's methods were different from those of his 
cousin, his objects were the same. Where Carlo burned witches 
-and heretics, Federico converted them. While one cham- 
pioned the cause of the Church by uncompromising resistance 
to all opponents, the other did so by means of persuasion and 

Both of them striking and vigorous personalities, the Borro- 
mean cousins did much to preserve the individuality of Milan 
and to prevent her from becoming socially, as well as politi- 
cally, a Spanish province. Nevertheless, the value of their 
influence was to a certain extent undermined by their associa- 
tion with the Counter-Reformation in its crudest and most 
uncompromising form. Carlo Borromeo was the nephew of 
Pope Pius IV., and when he became Archbishop of Milan, it 
was with the intention of making his diocese the field upon 
which the principles of the Catholic reaction should be put 
into practice. In the general demoralisation of the Duchy 
many real abuses had crept into the Church. Yet the work of 
reform was carried out in a spirit of fanaticism that could not 


but bring fresh evils in its train. The Inquisition was intro- 
duced regardless of the people's protests, and in the absence of 
any real heresy, it concerned itself chiefly with the suppression 
of witchcraft Incidentally it played into the hands of Spain, 
being used as a convenient instrument for discovering elements 
of sedition among the inhabitants of the Duchy. Amid the 
burnings of witches and the exorcism of devils, religion rapidly 
degenerated into superstition. For all his devotion to Milan, 
Carlo Borromeo was ecclesiastic before he was patriot. While 
he hurled defiance at the Spanish Government, he unwittingly 
contributed towards the degradation of his fellow-citizens, 
and in so doing bound them faster beneath the yoke of the 

The death of the last Hapsburg King of Spain in 1700 
involved Milan in fresh warfare, from which there was no real 
respite until the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1746. When the 
Peace of Utrecht ended the War of Spanish Succession by 
recognising the Bourbon candidate as King of Spain while 
stripping him of his Italian possessions, the fate of Milan had 
already been decided. Eugene's occupation of Milan in Sep- 
tember, 1706, and his subsequent nomination as Governor for 
the Emperor Joseph I., brought the Duchy beneath the sceptre 
of the House of Austria. From that time, but for occasional 
intervals, Austrian rule prevailed in Milan until the triumph of 
Italian independence in the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, 
the Austrian Hapsburgs did not make good their hold upon 
the Duchy without interference on the part of their rivals. The 
mere fact that Milan was in the hands of the Emperor revived 
ancient fears of imperial predominance in Italy. In view of 
the ambitions of the Emperor Charles VI., the prospect of the 
extinction of both Medici in Florence and Farnesc in Parma 
brought these apprehensions within the sphere of practical 
politics. Preparations for war began as early as 1729, and four 
years later Milan was occupied by Charles Emmanuel III. of 
Savoy, acting as the ally of France and Spain. Charles Em- 
manuel entered Milan on nth December, 1733, to obtain 
possession of the Castello after a fourteen days 1 siege. Then, 
for the first time since the death of Francesco Sforza, Milan 


had an Italian lord. Although the presence of French troops 
called for considerable sacrifices on the part of the citizens, the 
three years of Charles Emmanuel's rule were justly appreciated. 
The new prince mingled freely with his subjects, going to the 
Duomo on foot, unprotected by a baldacchino, and giving dances 
in the Castello. Milanese occupied the chief offices, while the 
more flagrant abuses in the administration were remedied. As 
early as January, 1734, the Fiscal Magistrate, Gabriele Verri, 
wrote in his diary : " The people begin to grow fond of the 
present Government "/ It seemed as though the Ducal regime 
had returned, and the departure of Charles Emmanuel, on the 
restoration of Milan to Austria by the peace of 1736, was wit- 
nessed with genuine regret by the inhabitants. Four years 
later the War of Austrian Succession brought fresh disturbance 
to Italy, in the course of which Milan was occupied for three 
months by Don Philip of Spain. Only in 1746 did the Duchy 
settle down to a period of peace and of reviving prosperity under 
the rule of Maria Theresa. At each shuffling of the Italian 
States among the Powers of Europe, Austria had contrived to 
remain mistress of Milan. Yet this had only been done at the 
cost of the gradual advance of Savoy upon the western frontiers 
of the Duchy. The process began in 1713 by the surrender of 
Valenza, Alessandria and the Val Sesia to Victor Amadeus. 
In 1736 Charles Emmanuel obtained Novara and Tortona as 
the price of his withdrawal from Milan. Finally, the Peace of 
Aix-la-Chapelle brought the frontiers of Savoy to the Ticino 
by confirming Charles Emmanuel in the possession of Bobbio, 
Voghera and Vigevano, the bribe with which Maria Theresa 
had lured him to her side during the War of Austrian Succes- 
sion. In view of future events, this absorption of Milanese 
territory by Savoy and Charles Emmanuel's brief rule in Milan 
give colour and interest to the somewhat profitless struggles of 
the first half of the eighteenth century. 

The opening of Maria Theresa's reign in Milan had augured 
badly for its success. Her insistence upon Austrian methods 
alienated the people, and the welcome which the Spaniards 
received in 1745, as well as the long reaction which followed 

1 Bonfadini, op. cit. 


their withdrawal, must chiefly be laid at her door. Neverthe- 
less, Maria Theresa's rule and that of her sons raised Milan to 
new life. From 1746 reform became the fashion, and progress 
showed itself in every department of public life. Even before 
that date, the endless taxes of the Spanish regime were replaced 
by a single direct tribute known as the Diaria* Now Pietro 
Verri's book on the trade of Milan waged successful war upon 
the widespread financial corruption which paralysed the re- 
sources of the city. Cesare Beccaria's treatise on Crimes and 
Penalties paved the way for much-needed judicial reform. 
Under Leopold II. even the constitutional problem was touched, 
and in 1790 the Emperor sanctioned a representative assembly 
to " expound the wants of the Milanese ". The small result of 
this conference was due chiefly to the conservative spirit of the 
representatives, who declined to ask for the constitution which 
Leopold was apparently willing to grant. 

The possession of Tuscany, which passed in 1736 to Maria 
Theresa's husband, gave the Austrian Hapsburgs an interest 
in, and a knowledge of, Italy which had been foreign to their 
Spanish cousins. Leopold II. spent long years as Grand Duke 
of Tuscany before he succeeded his brother as Emperor, and 
the experience which he gained in Florence was used for the 
benefit of Milan. Maria Theresa's third son, Ferdinand, also 
became an Italian prince by his marriage with the heiress of 
Modena. In 1771 Ferdinand was made Governor of Milan, 
and for the next twenty-five years he and his wife (another 
Beatrice d'Este) held their Court at the capital. Under Ferdi- 
nand's auspices and those of his able minister, Count Pirmian, 
improvements were carried out in a generous spirit. The 
navigation between the Adda and Milan was at last made 
perfect The Scala Theatre was opened. The population 
increased, trade revived and Milan became again the centre 
of prosperity and culture. Thanks to a treaty of commerce 
and alliance between the various rulers of Italy, the Seven 
Years' War had no Italian aspect. Only after fifty years of 
unbroken peace did the advent of Napoleon introduce a new 
period of unrest into the history of Milan. 

When on I5th May, 1796, Napoleon Bonaparte entered 


Milan at the head of a victorious army, he stood upon the very 
threshold of his career. Less than two months before, he had 
been promoted to the command of the army of Italy at the age 
of twenty-six. Now, Victor Amadeus III. of Sardinia had 
been forced into an inglorious peace, the Archduke Ferdinand 
had fled before the approach of the French, and the young 
general found himself, for the first time, the centre of attraction 
in a large and important city. Napoleon took up his quarters 
in the Palazzo Serbelloni, where he was joined by his newly 
married wife, Josephine. Republican propaganda had been so 
far successful in Milan as to make many of the citizens hail 
the French as deliverers. Hence the Palazzo Serbelloni soon 
became the resort of all the most cultured and progressive men 
of the city. Meanwhile Napoleon continued his victorious 
campaign against Austria, until he controlled 'all North Italy 
west of the Adige. On the withdrawal of the Austrians 
many of the Lombard cities declared their independence. Na- 
poleon, however, loath to create a number of small States, 
summoned a congress of deputies to Milan, where he obtained 
from them a declaration in favour of a single Lombard Re- 
public. In July, 1797, this new State came into being with 
the title of the Cisalpine Republic and with Milan as its capital. 
Three months later it was recognised by Austria and her allies 
in the Treaty of Campo-Formio. 

So far republican enthusiasm had carried all before it, but 
it was not long before the weaknesses of a system which had 
no real root in Italy became apparent. The Constitution of 
the Cisalpine Republic, modelled on the French Constitution 
of the Year III., was foreign to Italian traditions. Patriotic 
sentiment was outraged by seeing many of Lombardy's most 
priceless artistic treasures carried off to France. In Milan, 
where nobles and people had shared the burden of foreign 
oppression, the class hatred fostered by the French Revolution 
found small response. Shopkeepers, according to an Italian 
writer, addressed their noble customers as dttadino padrone in- 
stead of as eccettentissimo signer padrone^ and thought that they 
had thereby embraced the principles of the Revolution. 1 The 
1 Bonfadini, of. dt. 


most enlightened citizens were not prepared to adopt the French 
programme in its entirety. Hence the Government was forced 
to lean upon a group of agitators, whose policy took the form 
of slavish imitation of French methods. The violence of the 
reaction which followed Suvorov's occupation of Milan, on 
behalf of the Austro-Russian alliance in April, 1799, testified 
to the unreal character of the regime which it replaced. 

In June, 1800, Napoleon was back again in Milan, where 
he joined in a solemn Te Deum at the Duomo as a thank- 
offering for his victory at Marengo. When Lombardy had 
been wrested for the second time from the grip of Austria, the 
Cisalpine Republic was revived as a buffer State between 
Austrian Venice and French Piedmont. In 1804, however, the 
Cisalpine Republic was transformed into the Kingdom of Italy, 
with Eugene de Beauharnais as its Viceroy, and ere long the 
whole of North Italy was included within its boundaries. Ten 
years later, when Napoleon's power was tottering to its fall, 
Eugene made an effort to obtain the North Italian Kingdom 
for himself. Yet, despite his real merits as a governor, heavy 
'taxation and growing dislike of the French system rendered the 
Viceroy unpopular in Milan. Loyalty to Napoleon prevented 
Eugene himself from asking the congress of Vienna for the 
vacant throne, while his suggestion that the Milanese Senate 
should do so for him met with no adequate response. Far 
from desiring a French sovereign, Milan marked the occasion 
of Napoleon's abdication by the ruthless murder of the French 
Minister of Finance. The mass of citizens, caring only for 
peace, welcomed the return to Austrian rule, while the newly 
formed Italian Liberal party had perforce to content them- 
selves with Metternich's assurance that the Government should 
" conform to Italian character and customs". 1 The Napo- 
leonic era was over, but its effect upon Milan proved deep 
and lasting. While Rome, Florence and Genoa sank to the 
level of French departments, administered directly from Paris, 
Milan remained throughout the period the capital of a semi- 
independent State. She became, indeed, for the time being, 
the first city in Italy. This prominent position gratified the 

* Boltoji-JUng, History of Italian Unity, vol. L, p. 14, 


pride of her citizens while it kindled their ambitions. In the 
same way, the splendid service performed by the Lombard 
Legion gave the Duchy new confidence in her military powers. 
The reforms of the eighteenth century had revived the pros- 
perity of Milan. Now the Napoleonic system, with its im- 
proved education and its high ideals, awakened her slumbering 
desires for national and political liberty. Both combined to 
fit her for an important part in the last great struggle for free- 
dom which lay before the Italian States. 

If the Austrian Government had, in any sense, kept its 
promise to respect the claims of nationality in North Italy, 
Milan might well have been reconciled to foreign rule. Trade, 
as ever, was all-important to her citizens. Thus commercial 
interests rendered them both averse to change and also ap- 
preciative of the value of Austrian administration. With good 
administration, however, went political tyranny of the most 
irritating type. The central Congregations for Lombardy and 
Venetia, which formed Austria's sole concession in 1815, were 
practically restricted to the work of local government. Spies 
of Austria permeated every class of society. Political offenders 
were treated, with the utmost brutality, and the ordinary forms 
of justice were dispensed with in all State trials. Hence the 
best elements in Lombard society were gradually united in 
their common hatred of Austria, and in their desire to emanci- 
pate their country from her yoke. The Romanticist move- 
ment, which found its chief Milanese exponent in Alessandro 
Manzoni, and which made literature the vehicle for advanced 
political teaching ; the influence of nobles owning property 
on both sides of the Ticino, who brought to Milan the patriotic 
ideals which they imbibed in the freer air of Piedmont ; the 
formation of a railway between Milan and Venice, over which 
the two cities joined hands in successful opposition to the 
Government each in its different way helped to hasten the 
crisis and to prepare Lombardy for revolution. 

Two comparatively small incidents paved the way for the 
Milanese rising of 1848.1 In September, 1847, the enthusiastic 
reception given to the Italian Archbishop who had been 
* C/. Bolton-ICing, vol. i., p. 195 seq. 


appointed to the See of Milan, provoked the first conflict with 
the authorities. The disturbance did not assume serious pro- 
portions, yet it left behind it a feeling of irritation which 
culminated in the Tobacco Riots of the following January. In 
order to strike a financial blow at the Government, the citizens 
bound themselves to refrain from the use of tobacco. For some 
days there was hardly a cigar to be seen in Milan, until the 
Government organised a counter-demonstration by means of 
a large distribution of tobacco to the Austrian garrison. With 
foreign soldiers ostentatiously smoking in the streets, a riot was 
inevitable. When this was crushed with wholly unnecessary 
violence and considerable loss of life, Milan was goaded to the 
pitch of exasperation. Two months later the news of the Vienna 
revolution presented an opportunity for revenge. During the 
Five Days (i7th-22nd March) the population rose as one man 
and drove the Austrian forces from Milan. This splendid 
achievement on the part of untrained and unarmed citizens met 
with an enthusiastic response. Volunteers from all parts of 
Italy joined in the national rising, and Charles Albert of Sar- 
dinia was at length prevailed upon to declare war with Austria. 
With the opening of hostilities, however, the inherent weaknesses 
of the revolution were revealed. As in the days of the Ambrosian 
Republic, the Provisional Government in Milan showed itself 
singularly incapable of military organisation. Its failure to 
make adequate provision for war helped to bring about the 
fusion of Lombardy with Piedmont in order that the campaign 
might be conducted with greater unanimity and vigour. Once 
the fusion was effected, it brought into prominence the many 
different issues and interests that divided the two provinces. 
Bitter controversy arose as to whether Turin or Milan should 
be the future capital, while the republican element in Milan, 
headed by Mazzini, looked upon fusion with monarchial Pied- 
mont in the light of a betrayal. Meanwhile Charles Albert 
was proving himself to be no Francesco Sforza in point of 
military ability. The Austrians were allowed time to concen- 
trate in the famous fortresses of the Quadrilateral, and a campaign 
ensued which terminated in disaster for the Italians. Triumphs 
such as Santa Lucia and the fall of Peschiera won lasting glory 


for Italian arms, yet the bravery of the troops at length suc- 
cumbed before the blunders of their leaders. After their defeat 
at Custozza (25th July, 1848) the Italians were forced back upon 
Milan, and on 5th August the news spread through the city that 
Charles Albert had decided upon capitulation. The more ad- 
vanced spirits endeavoured to rejoice at his failure, saying that 
now at least they were their own masters. 1 Yet Garibaldi 
proclaimed the People's War only to retire to Switzerland before 
an overwhelming Austrian force. Seven months later Charles 
Albert suffered his final reverse at Novara, a place that seemed 
fraught with disaster for Milan. As Lodovico II Moro's col- 
lapse at Novara and his attempt to escape among the Swiss 
troops gave Milan to the first of her many invaders, so Charles 
Albert's defeat on the same spot, followed by his escape through 
the Austrian lines to exile and early death, doomed Milan to 
her last and worst period of foreign oppression. 

There is no need to dwell upon the horrors which Milan 
endured during the years when she lay crushed beneath the 
brutal military despotism of the Austrian general, Radetzky. 
Suffice it to say that they were enough to heal all divisions 
between the citizens and their Piedmontese neighbours, and to 
render Austria's belated attempts at milder government wholly 
unavailing. When on 7th June, 1859, Louis Napoleon and 
Victor Emmanuel entered Milan after their victory at Magenta, 
they were greeted with the wildest ovations. A few days later 
the citizens hailed with joy Victor Emmanuel's declaration that 
Lombardy was once more annexed to Piedmont. Deep-rooted 
separatist traditions bowed at length before the sentiment of 
nationality and the growing desire for unity. Milan now volun- 
tarily abandoned her claim to be an independent State. Hence 
Austria's recognition of the annexation at Villafranca, while it 
forms but an episode in the Italian War, brings the history of 
Milan to its natural close. From henceforth the Duchy of 
Milan ceased to exist as a political unit Her destinies were 
merged in those of the nascent Kingdom of Italy, which she 
had helped to bring into being. 

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I. From Amboise, i6th August^ 1526. " Mi ha mandate a dire 
che dipoi che he stata al castello io ho procurato di farmi duca de 
Milano et pero ch'io sia certo che fin che vive non sero mai ne duca 
de Milano ne Cardinale, io in niuno tempo dipoi sono in Franza 
cercai ne procurai esser duca de Milano perche havria fatto contra 
quello che gia promisi al Re Cristianissimo, mio Signore. Circa a 
Io esser Cardinale, io sono homo et li horaini si fanno Cardinal!. 

" Ne si pensi V. S. ch'io tenghi il dir suo profetia et che non sapia 
che in lei non e poter de far do che dice perche non e ne papa ne 
re de franza et come Francesco Sforza et io come Maximiliano non 
mi potra ne sforzar ne inganar mai perche la persona sua non vale 
piu della mia ancora fusse sana, che Dio volesse, ne ha piu amici de 
me, io ho bono patrone et ho tanti amici como lei et spero di giorno 
in giorno acquistarne de altri mi dubito bene se non muta costume 
che quelli che ha gli perdera. Et se pare che al presente la fortuna 
Faiuti piu de me quella medesima si potrebbe mutar et far il con- 
trario come altre volte V. S. ne ha visto experientia che io comandava 
et lei m'ubidiva. Sera adunche di lei et di me quello che a Dio 
piacera et non a V. S. 

" Prometto nondimeno a V. S. che dove li potro giovar et monstar 
segni di cordiale fratello io Io faro, perche il sangue cosi vuole et di 
bonissima voluta pregando nostro Signore Dio gli doni quello chel 
suo cor desidera non essendo pero in danno di chi mai non li vole. 
De V. S. hobediente fratello. 

" Maximiliano." 

II. On 24th August, 1526, Massimiliano acknowledges a message 
from Francesco " che si pente d'haver creso quello che altre volte ha, 
oreso <Ji mi perche si e chiarita all' contrario ". 



III. "Illio et Exrao Sigre fratello mio Cordmo. Ho receputo 
una de V. S. responsiya ad una mia et se quel cor che comando a la 
mano che scrivesse fu cosi sincero como la mano ad ubidire dico 
che io sono il piu contento homo che viva, perche, dipoi il Re 
Cristianissimo mio Signore, niuna cosa piu desidero ohe lo amore et 
bona gratia sua de laquale spero ne debbia reuscir la quiete totale del 
corpo et animo mio, quale corpo sempre si exponera ad periculo di 
perdersi per V. Ex, et per tutta la casa de laquale possiamo tutti 
confessare lei esser II principale per esser in magior dignita constituta. 
Rengratio V. Ex. quanto piu di core posso di questo mi ha scripto et 
certamente io so che merito che mi ami perche non feci mai nel 
tempo che havuto di me suspecto salvo quello che convenia a uno 
amdrevole et cordiale fratello. Vero he che io feci poco perche piu 
ultra non se extendevano le debile forze mie et serano de questo, se 
loro piaceva, la Santita di nostro Signore et la Ill^a Signoria testl- 
rnonii, 1 a quelli debitamente debe prestar fede. Ne mi pento di cio 
ch'io feci, mi doglio non haver potuto far asai piu perche sono cosi 
per molte ragione obligato. Pregola ad continuar d'amarmi ch'io il 
medesimo faro et cosi causaremo aii amici nostri consolatione et ali 
inimici affanno et cordoglio. 

" V. Ex. mi prega voglii haver il Signore Joanne Paulo 2 nostro 
comune fratello per racomandato. Piacessi a Dio ch'io fussi in esser 
tale ch'io lo dovessi haver per racomandato, perche miglioraria (?) 
asai di conditione, posso bene amarlo et desiderare de farli placer et 
cosi ne ho certo volunta et farolo dove potro sempre come per un- 
altro mi medesimo come io lo tengho et teni di continuo dipoi us- 
cette del putto. Io non rispondo ad ogni particularita de la sua 
perche non voglio intrar piu nei cose fastidiose, pentomi delle passate 
et gia sono tutte dimenticate dal canto de chi scrive cosi prego facii 
dal suo. Ludovico Carpano con la solita prudentia et dexterita sua 
supplira a bocca a quello si manco nel scriver ai qual me rimetto et a 
lei di bono cor me racomando. In Bles a 28 septembre 1526. De 
V. S. bono et cordiale fratello. 

" Maximiliano/* 

(Archivio di Stato di Milano, Potenze Sovrane, Massimiliano, 
Vicende personal*,) 

1 !.<?., Pope Clement VII. and the Venetian RepuWig who proposed the 
invitation to Massimiliano. 

3 Gian Paolo Sforza, Marquis of Caravag^io, 





Francesco I. = ( 


Duke of Milan, 



d, 1420. 

PoUssena, = Sigiamondo Andrea Acquaviva, Isolea. Lu 
d. 1449* Malatesta. D. of Atri. (i 

Galeazzo Maria -Bona of Savoy. 

Caterina,s(t) Girolamo Riario. 

(),OiftcomoFeo. > 
(3) Giovanni dei Medici. 


Bp. of Lodi, 

<f. 1540- 

Isabella of=Gian Galeazzo 

d. 1524. 



6. 1470. 

* 150 

Bona, = Sigismund, , 
d. 1557. King of Poland. 

Abbot of iSToirmoutiers, 


ABBIATEGRASSO, 15, 55, 85, 107, 108, 124, 137, 188, 230, 272. 

Adorno, Family of, in Genoa, 73, 134, 217. 

Prospero, 119. 

Adrian VI., Pope (Adrian of Utrecht), 227. 

Agnadello, Battle of. See Ghiarad'adda. 

Agostino, Abbot of, Casanova, 92. 

Aix-la-Chapelle, Peace of (1746), 318, 319. 

Alessandria, 39, 48, 54, 77 *75 209, 227, 238, 296, 319. 

Alexander VI., Pope (Rodrigo Borgia), 144-46* *4 8 > 150* *54i *73 190- 

Allegre, Ives d', 182. 

Alopo, Pandolfo d', 9. 

Alviano, Bartolommeo d', 191, 192, igg, 208, 210, 218. 

Amadeo, Giovanni Antonio, 252-58, 266, 269, 271, 272. 

Amboise, 96, 259. 

Charles d ? (Chaumont), 284, 286, 302. 

Georges d', Cardinal, 186, 188, 190, 191, 286, 302. 

Ambrosian Republic, Foundation of, 37-39 ; treaty with Francesco Sforza, 40 ; 
war with Venice, 41-47 ; internal government, 48-53 ; war with Sforza, 54, 
55; alliance with Venice, 56, 57; surrender to Francesco Sforza, 57-60; 
causes of failure, 60, 61 ; other references, 91, 167, 213, 247, 260, 291-93, 324. 

Ancona, March of, Francesco Sforza's acquisition of, 15-19 ; wars in, 20, 23, 25, 
27-29 ; preparations for coming of Bianca Maria Visconti, 21, 22 ; Sforza's 
friends in, 26 ; Sforza's loss of, 30 ; Sforza's rule in, 31-34 ; other references, 
40, 91, 267. 

Angouleme, Charles, Duke of, son of Francis I., King of France, 312, 313, 

Francis, Duke of. See France, King Francis I. of. 

Anjou, 2nd House of, claims to Naples, 7, 8, 22, 68, 71, 144, 
John of, Duke of Calabria, 73-76, 82. 

Louis I. of, 7.- 

Louis III. of, 8, n, 22. 

Ren< of, 22, 25, 67-69, 72, 74, 76, 87, 130, 143, 249. 

Anjou-Durazzo, Charles of, 7. 

. Joanna of (Joanna II., Queen of Naples), 6-9, *i f 12, 22, 

Ladislas of, King of Naples, 2, 7, 8- 

Annone, Giorgio, 95, 96. 
Antiquario, Jacopo, 137, 298, 
Appiani, Giovanni, 50, 52, 65, 
Aquila, Siege of (1423-24), 6, 9, 11, 12, 70, 89, 
o, Serafino, 297. 



Aragon, Alfonso I, of, King of Naples, 8-10, 12, 22, 25, 27, 30, 36, 37, 67, 68, 
71-73, 266. 

Alfonso II. of, King of Naples, 71, 79, 98, *oi 129-33, 145, 150, 155. 

Carlotta of, daughter of King Federico of Naples, 173. 

Federico of, King of Naples, 150, 151, 173, 189. 

Ferdinand the Catholic, King of, 155, 189, 191, 193, 199* 200, 202, 225. 

Ferrante of, King of Naples, 73-76, 78, 79, 93, 118-20, 126, 132, 133, 144, 

145, 148-50, 234. 
Ferrantino of, King of Naples, 151, 155, 158, 159, 216. 

Giovanna of, widow of King Ferrantino, 216. 

Isabella of, Duchess of Milan, 126, 138-41, 145, 152, 153, 159, 185, 264, 


Leonora of, Duchess of Ferrara, 71, 126. 

Argenta, Battles of (1482-83), 129, 131. 

Ariotta, Battle of (1513), 210, 213. 

Ascoli, 1 8. 

Asti, 35, 13*, HS, 15*1 *55-57> l6 o> *7i *75, 188, 190, 209. 

Attendolo, Bartolo, 4. 

Foschino, 261. 

Giovanni, i, 3, 4, 

Lorenzo, 4. 

Marco, 5, 

. Margherita, g, 

Micheletto, 4, 30, 35, 45, 46. 

Muzio. See Sforza. 

Aubigny, Stuart d', 151. 

Austria, Ferdinand, Archduke of, 320, 321. 

' Margaret of, Regent of the Netherlands, 204, 216. 

Maria Theresa of, 319, 320. 

Rule of, in Milan, 318-20, 323-25. 

Austrian Succession, War of, 319. 
Auton, Jean d', 179, 188-90, 3x0. 

BAGNOLO, Peace of (1484), 131, 146. 
Bajazet II., Sultan, 171. 
Bandello, Matteo, 281, 302. 
Barbaro, Ermolao, 297. 
Barbato, Andrea, 229. 
Barbiano, Al^erico da, 3, 5. 

Carlo da, Count of Belgioioso, 143, 144, 146, 147, 150, 151, 

Barcelona, Peace of (1529), 239. 

Bari, Duchy and City of, 76, 118, 126, 185. 

Dukes of. See Sforza. 

Barzizza, Gasparino, 291. 

Guinforte, 86, 88, 94, 291, 293. 

Basel, Council of, 17, 130. 

Bayard, Le Chevalier, 212, 216, 

Beatis, Antonio de, 282, 305, 306, 309, 310. 

INDEX 337 

Beauharnais, Eugene de, 322. 

Beaujeu, Anne of, 131, 

Bellincione, Bernardo, 138, 139, 290, 297, 299, 300. 

Bellinzona, 12, 106, 120, 181, 196-98, 200, 201, 220. 

Giovanni da, 137. 

Benibo, Bonifazio, 277. 
Bentivoglio, Alessandro, 241, 288. 
Giovanni, 135, 173. 

Ippolita. See Sforza. 

Benzone, Soncino, 185. 
Bergamo, 14, 70, 207, 255. 
Bicocca, Battle of (1522), 328. 
Boccaccino, Boccacio, 287. 
Bologna, 3, 64, 135, 173, 193, 240, 241. 
Matteo di, 41, 

Boltraffio, Giovanni Antonio, 285, 286. 
Bonaparte, Napoleon, 320-23. 

Louis Napoleon, 325. 

Bonnivet, Guillaume Gouffier, Sire de, Admiral of France, 230, 232. 
Borgia, Csesar, 17, 173, 178, 182, 186, 190, 284, 286. 

Don Gioffre, 148. 

Borgo San Donino, 83, 156. 

Bormio, 134. 

Borromeo, S. Carlo, Archbishop of Milan, 316-18. 

Federico, Archbishop of Milan, 316, 317. 

Giovanni, 104, 121, 122. 

Lodovico, 179. 

' Vitaliano, 50, 51, 

Bossi, Teodoro, 37, 43, 50, 51. 

Bourbon, Charles, Duke of, Constable of France, 216, 219, 223, 229-31, 237, 238, 


Braccio, Count of Montone, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8-10, 12, 
Bramante of Urbino, 252, 264, 269-72, 278, 279, 296, 297. 
Bratnantino (Bartolomeo Suardi), 278, 279, 287. 
Brandolini, Tiberto, 83* 
Brasca, Erasmo, 146. 
Brescia, 14, 44, 46, 47, 70, 207, 275. 
Brittany, Anne of, 142, 173. 
Brunelleschi, Filippo, 100, 269. 
Brunswick, Henry, Duke of, 239. 
Bugatto, Zanetto, 277. 
Burgundy, Charles the Bold, Duke of, 102, 202. 

Philip the Good, Duke of, 74, 

Philip, Duke of, son of the Emperor Maximilian, 171. 
Burigozzo, G. M,, 218, 231, 238, 244. 

CAGNOLA, G, P., 82, 167, 251. 
/ Andrea, 152. 


Calazzo, Count of. See San Severino. 

Calabria, Alfonso, Duke of. See Aragon, Alfonso II. 

John, Duke of. See Anjou. 

Calco, Bartolomeo, 136. 

Tristano, 301. 

Calmeta, Vincenzo, 300, 302. 

Cambrai, War of the League of (1508-10), 130, 193, 194, 200-2. 

Camerino, 19, 28, 34. : 

Campi, Giulio, 24. 

Campo Formio, Treaty of (1797), 321. 

Morto, Battle of (1482), 129. 

Captains and Defenders of the Liberty of Milan. See Milan, Constitution of. 
Caradosso, goldsmith and sculptor, 138, 270. 

Caravaggio, Siege of (1448), 45, 4 6 * 

Cardona, Raymond de, Viceroy of Naples, 206, 208, 212, 216, 217. 

Carmagnola, Francesco, 3. 

Casalmaggiore, 30, 34, 44, 45. 

Castiglione, Baldassare, 302, 303. 

Branda, Bishop of Como, 112. 

Guarnerio, 65, 66. 

Cervia, 128. 

Chalcondylas, Demetrius, 294, 297. 

Charles V., Emperor, 193, 204, 205, 215, 225, 226, 229, 230, 232-35, 238-46, 289, 

Charles VI. , Emperor, 3x8. 

Charles, Jeffrey, 302. 

Chiavenna, 220, 242. 

Chrysoloras, Manuel, 293. 

Cisalpine Republic, 321, 322. 

Clement VII., Pope (Giulio dei Medici), 231, 233-35, 238-41. 

Cloppet, Jean, 144. 

Cognac, League of (1526), 235, 236, 238-40, 

College of Jurisprudence. See Milan, Constitution of. 

Colleone, Bartolomeo, 40, 43, 54, 57, 98, 99. 

Medea, 255. 

Colonna, Prospero, 216, 217. 

Comacchio, 128. 

Commines, Philippe de, 108, 115, rr$, 127, 134, 137, 152, 155, 158, 271, 310, 

Como, 39, 149, 177, 179, 181, 201, 204, 227, 236, 271, 272, 288. 

Constance, Diet of (1507), 193, 198, 199. 

Constantinople, Fall of (1453), 69, 293. 

Conte, Donate del, 117. 

Corio, Bernardino, 3, 6, 14, 46, 50, 100, 101, 107, no, na, iig, 136, 146, 153, 
157, 263, 296, 301, 302, 

Correggio, ManJfredo da, 83. 

Niccold da, 297, 300, 301. 

Corte, Bernardino da, 177-79, 265, 

Corvinus, John, 148. 

INDEX 339 

Corvinus, Matthias, King of Hungary, 283. 

Cotignola, 1-5, 7-9, 30, 31, 34. 

Gotta, Innocenzo, 37. 

Piero, 58. 

Council of Nine Hundred, Council of Justice, Secret Council. See Milan, 
Constitution of. 

Crema, 47, 53, 55, 56, 70, 232. 

Cremona, Sforza's marriage at (1441), 24; attacked by Visconti, 29; Bianca 
Sforza's defence of (1448), 44, 45 ; loyalty to House of Sforza, 84 ; 
Diet of (1483), 130, 137 ; occupied by Venetians (1499), 177, 180, 193 ; 
cause of friction between Swiss and Venetians, 207, 208 ; siege of 
(1526), 235, 236; riots in (1531), 242 ; architecture of, 267, 271 ; artists 
of, 276, 277 ; other references, 20, 40, 48, 56, 64, 70, 86, 97, 108, 117, 
125, 316. 

Church of S. Agostino, 277, 287. 

S. Sigismondo, 24. 

Crespi, Treaty of (i544) 3*3- 

Crivelli, Leodrisio, 301. 

Lucrezia, 163, 283, 310. 

Curzio, Lancino, 281, 302. 

Custozza, Battle of (1848), 325. 

DANTE, 184, 297. 

Decembrio, Pier Candido, 58, 291-95, 301. 

Denmark, Christian I., King of, 108. 

Christina of, Duchess of Milan, 244, 245, 312, 313. 

Dijon, Treaty of (1513), 211. 
Dolcebuono, architect, 272. 
Domodossola, 12, 135, 196, 197, 211, 220. 
Doria, Andrea, 238, 239. 

ENGLAND, 64, 90, 105, 124, 238. 
Edward IV., King of, go, 124. 

Henry VII., King of, 143, 171. 

Henry VIII. , King of, 210, 235. 

National Gallery of, 276, 283. 

Equicola, Mario, 205, 212. 

Este, Beatrice d', Duchess of Milan, betrothal to Lodovico II Moro, 126 ; advent 
at Court of Milan, 139, 140 ; mission to Venice, 146-48 ; meeting with 
Charles VIII., 151 ; courage on fall of Novara (1495), 156 ; share in 
peace negotiations, 157, 158 ; death, 162-64 ; tomb, 258, 270 ; decor- 
ations in memory of, 264, 265 ; portraits, 279, 282, 286, 288 ; influence 
on men of letters, 297, 300, 302, 303 ; other references, 204,308, 310. 

Beatrice d', wife of (i) Niccold da Correggio, (2) Tristano Sforza, 121, 


Borso d', Duke of Ferrara, 82, 94. 

Ercoled', Duke of Ferrara, 126, 128, 129, 151, 158, 172, 178. 

-. Ippolito d', Cardinal, Archbishop of Milan, 172, 181, 309. 

. Isabella d', Marchioness of Mantua, 126, 139, 172, 205, 206, 212, 216, 283. 


Este, Lionello d', Marquis of Ferrara, 53. 

- Maria Beatrice, heiress of Modena, 320. 

- Niccolo d', Marquis of Ferrara, 7, n, 297, 

Eugenius IV., Pope (Grabriele Condulmier), 15, 17-19, 25, 27, 30, 267, 
Eustachi, Filippo degli, 123, 137. 


Fabriatio, 19, 28. 

Faenza, 101. 

Feltre, Vittorino da, 86. 

FermOj 18, 21, 22, 26, 29, 32. 

Ferrara, n, 64, 86, 94, 112, 122, 146, 172, 193, 200, 300, 306, 

- War of (1482-84), 128-33, 145, 170, 280. 
Ferrari, Gaudenzio, 279, 285, 287-89. 
Ferrini, Benedetto, 254, 259, 263, 269, 272. 
Fiesco, Obietto, 127, 134. 

Filarete, Antonio, 226, 252, 259, 261-63, 265-69, 272. 

Filelfo, Francesco, 28, 37, 51, 86, 290-95. 

Firmian, Count, 320, 

Florence, wars with Filippo Maria Visconti, 13-15, 18 ; visit of Francesco Sforza 
to, 19 ; alliance with Milan (1451), 67-73 ; visits of Galeazzo Maria Sforza 
to, 95, 98-100 ; league with Milan and Venice (1474), 102 ; Pazzi conspiracy 
in, 118-20 ; relations with Milan over Sarzana, 133, 134 ; over Pisa, 160, 
161, 173 ; influence on Milanese architecture, 268, 269 ; artistic intercourse 
with Milan, 280, 284, 285 ; other references, 6, 21, 24, 33, 61, 62, 65, 109, 
130, 190-92, 231, 234-36, 239, 246, 290, 296, 318, 320, 322. 

Fogliano, Marco, n. 

Foix, Gaston de, 202, 203, 

Foppa, Vincenzo, 254, 266, 273-76, 278, 

Forli, 128, 135, 173, 186. 

Fornovo, Battle of (1495), 156, 157, 

France, Charles VII., King of, 68-70, 72-75, 249. 

- Charles VIIL , King of, 131, 142-44, 146-61, 170, 172, 249, 

- Claude of, daughter of Louis XII., 193. 

- Francis I., King of, 193, 214, 216-19, 222-27, 229, 231-33, 235, 239, 243, 

285, 288, 312, 313, 315. 

- , Louis XL, King of, 14, 54, 69, 74-77, 79, 80, 90,93, 96, 99, 102, 131, 142, 

Louis XIL, King of, 131, 151, i55-57 *68, 170-75, 178-80, 182, 186-95, 

197-204, 208, 211, 213, 214, 225, 243, 260, 284, 295, 298, 299, 
Louise of, mother of Francis L, 233. 

Frederick III., Emperor, 36, 51, 68, 86, 94, 149, 
Fregoso, family of, in Genoa, 73, 117. 
............. Antonio, 296, 297, 300, 

- Battistino, 119. 

- Ottaviano, 217. 

Paolo, Archbishop of Genoa, 74-76, 134, 150, 
Fribouig, Eternal Peace of (1516), 220, 222. 


Frundesberg, George of, 238. 

Fuentes, Spanish Governor of Milan, 315. 

GADIO, Bartolomeo, 252, 255, 259, 261, 275. 

GafFuri, Franchino, 296, 

Gaguin, Robert, 166. 

Gallerani, Cecilia, 140, 163, 282, 310. 

Garibaldi, 325. 

Garigliano, Battle of (1503), 191. 

Genoa, Visconti's acquisition of, 13 ; Francesco Sforza's acquisition of, 72-76 ; 
Galeazzo Mario confirmed in possession of, 93 ; his visit to, 101, 109 ; riots 
in and declaration of independence, 117-19 ; return to Sforza protectorate, 
134; attack on (1494), 150, 151; submission to Louis XII., 177; his visit 
to, 189 ; rebellion of (1507), 192-94, 198 ; declares independence (1512), 204 ; 
deserts Massimiliano Sforza, 216, 217 ; changes of government in (1527-28), 
2 38, 239 ; Foppa in, 274 ; other references, 54, 57, 67, 69, 83, 127, 138, 143, 
158, 296, 310, 322. 

S. George, Company of, i, 3. 

Ghiarad'adda, 45, 47, 54, 70, 173, 177, 180, 193, 207. 

- . Battle of (1509), 200, 208. 
Gianpetrino, 285, 

Giovio, Paolo, Bishop of Nocera, 3, 4. 

Gonzaga, Carlo, 49, 50, 53, 55, 56, 76, 77, 247, 292. 

- Dorotea, 76-78, 

- Federico, Marquis of Mantua, 227. 

- Ferrante, Governor of Milan, 314. 

- Francesco, Marquis of Mantua, 126, 156, 157, 162, 172, 178, 190. 

- Isabella, See Este. 

- - Lodovico, Marquis of Mantua, 71, 77, 117, 120, 263, 266. 

- Susanna, 77, 
Gradara, Castle of, 27, 28. 
Gritti, Andrea, 208. 
Grumello, A., 227, 231, 
Guaynier, Theodore, 153. 
Guicciardini, Francesco, 192, 227. 

HAWKWOOD, Sir John, 4. 

Holy League, the (1511), 193, 202-4, 207-9, ^ l6 * 

IMOLA, 98, 101, 118, 186. 

Innocent VIII., Pope (Giovanni Battista Cibo), 132, 144. 

Innsbruck, 149, 179, 186, 204, 205, 286. 

JBSI, 17, 29, 30, 34. 

John XXIII. , Pope (Baldassare Cossa), 2, 8, 
Joseph I., Emperor, 318. 

Julius II. , Pope (Giuliano della Rovere), 132, 144, 150, 191-93, 199* 200-2, 204, 
208, 274. 


LAMSUGNANO, Andrea, 111-13. 

Giorgio, 37, 43, 50, 51. 

Landriano, Battle of (1529), 239. 

Antonio, 152, 156, 176, 267. 

Frate, 181. 

Lucrezia, 109. 

Piero, 109, 121. 

Lang, Matthias, Cardinal and Bishop of Gurk, 206, 212, 281, 282. 

Lannoy, Charles de, Viceroy of Naples, 232, 234. 

Lascaris, Constantino, 86, 294, 299. 

Lautrec, French Governor of Milan, 216, 223, 224, 226, 228, 232, 238, 239. 

Lecco, 212, 219, 242. 

Leghorn, 151, 154, 160, 161. 

Leo X., Pope (Giovanni dei Medici), 208, 216, 217, 226, 227, 231, 236. 

Leopold II., Emperor, 320. 

Leyva, Antonio de, 227, 234, 237-40, 243, 314. 

Ligny, Louis de Luxembourg, Count of, 180, 181, 183, 186. 

Locarno, 211, 220. 

Loches, 184. 

Lodi, 39, 44, 45, 53. 55-57. 86, 97, 227, 231, 267, 272, 287, 296. 

Peace of (1454), 62, 70, 71, 86. 

Longagnana, Ambrosino da, 119. 
Loreto, 18. 

Lorraine, Francis, Duke of, 312. 

Rene", Duke of, 130, 132, 143 note. 

Lucca, 14, 54, 100. 

Lugano, 120, 201, 211, 220, 288. 
Luini, Bernardino, 279, 285, 287-89. 
Lys, S. Georges, 184. 


Machiavelli, Niccolo, 2, 19, 60, xog, 183, 284, 

Madrid, Treaty of (1526), 235. 

Magenta, Battle of (1859), 325. 

Maino, Agnese del, 15, 41, 94, 95. 

Giasone del, 159, 298, 299. 

Lancellotto del, 94. 

Malatesta, Carlo, 14. 

Galeazzo, 28. 

Roberto, 99, 129. 

Sallustio, 99. 

Sigismondo, 26-29, 57, 99. 

Mantegazza, Antonio, 254-56, 258, 

Cristoforo, 254-56, 258. 

Mantegna, Andrea, 157. 

Mantua, 64, 67, 95, 112, 146, 172, 193, 200, 206, 227. 

Diet of (1459), 87,90. 


INDEX 343 

Maraviglia, Alberto, 242, 243. 

Marengo, Battle of (1800), 322. 

Marignano, 55, 242 ; battle of (1515)* 217, 218, 220, 225, 288. 

Marliani, Lucia, log, no, 113. 

Martin V., Pope (Oddo Colonna), 8, 12. 

Martorelli, Baldo, 86. 

Maximilian, King of the Romans, Emperor-elect, 142, 143, 148, 149, 155, 156, 

159-62, 170-72, 179, l8o, 184, IQ3, 198, 199, 202-8, 210, 220, 225, 248, 283, 286. 

Mazarin, Cardinal, 315. 

Mazzini, Giuseppe, 324. 

Medici, Cosimo dei, 19, 20, 40, 67, 68, 72, 73, 90, 91, 95, 267, 268. 

Giovanni dei (delle Bande Nere), 231, 232, 236. 

Giuliano dei, 100, 118. 

Lorenzo dei, 72, 91, 100, 101, 118, 125, 126, 133, 134, 143, 144, 268, 280. 

Piero dei (II Gottoso), 93. 

Piero dei, 144, 145, 154. 

Medici or Medicini, Gian Giacomo, Castellan of Musso, 242. 

Melzi, Francesco, 285. 

Merula, Giorgio, 138, 295, 296, 301. 

Metternich, 322. 

Milan, Buildings of, Castello Sforzesco, 36, 37, 60, 66, 85, 88, 90, 97, 107, 108, 
in, 116, 121, 123, 131, 137, 177-79, ^83, 204, 211, 218, 219, 225, 
226, 229, 235, 236, 241, 242, 260-65, 287, 307, 318, 319. 

Cathedral, 60, 65, 66, 89, 139, 152, 181, 206, 211, 222, 245, 246, 

309, 3*9, 322. 

Churches and Monasteries, S. Ambrogio, 130, 268, 271. 

g. Eustorgio, 206, 268, 274. 

, > S. Maria delle Grazie, 162-64, 184, 268, 270, 281, 302, 308. 

S. Maria Incoronata, 267. 

S, Satiro, 268, 270. 
S. Stefano, 111-13. 

Court of Arengo, 43, 58, 59, 64, 85, 89, 108, 136, 206, 214, 259, 260, 

274, 275, 287. 

Medici Bank, 72, 267, 268, 274, 275. 

Ospedale Maggiore, 81, 82, 265-67, 275. 

City and Duchy of, extent and condition (1425), 12-14; rivalry with 
Venice, 44, 172, 173 ; want of autonomy, 14, 48, 83, 84, 94, 310, 311 ; 
plague in, 49, 230, 231, 233, 317; siege of (1449), 55-575 capitulations 
with Francesco Sforza, 63, 64, 94; canals of, 81, 106, no, 166, 167, 
188, 189, 320; visitors to, under Galeazzo Maria, 101, 108, 109; trade 
and prosperity of, 105, 106, 137, 165, 194-97, 249, 303-8; Lodovico's 
economic reforms in, 165-68; Louis XII, *s visits to, 178, 179, 188-90; 
religious influences in, 228,229, 309, 310; sufferings (1526-30), 236, 
241 ; Charles V.'s visit to, 243 ; nature of Sforza rule in, 246-50, 
. Constitution of, 37, 38, 80, 81, 104, 105, 136, 137, 168, 187, 188, 214, 215, 
223, 224, 228, 315, 316. 

. Captains and Defenders of Liberty (Ambrosian Republic), 38, 43* 

46, 49-53, 213, 292, 


Milan, Constitution of, College of Jurisprudence, 36, 37, 105, 176, 188, 214, 224, 


Council of Nine Hundred, 38, 41, 43, 58,94* 103, 104, 105, 223, 316. 

_. Ducal Councils (Secret Council, Council of Justice), 66, 93, 103, 

106, 115, 117, 120, 136, 187, 188, 228, 248, 307. 

Senate, 187, 188, 315, 322. 

Vicar and Twelve of Provision, 38, 64, 105, 214, 215, 223, 224, 316. 

Milano, Giovanni da, 261. 

Minuziano, Alessandro, 295. 

Modena, 128, 

Molinella, La, Battle of (1467), 98. 

Montana, Cola da, 112, 293. 

Montefeltro, Federico da, Duke of Urbino, 26, 28, 29, 85, 89, 98, 99, 129. 

Guidobaldo da, Duke of Urbino, 190, 

Montferrat, 64, 67, 160, 171. 

Guglielmo of, 54, 76, 77. 

Guglielmo II., Marquis of, 142, 143, 178. 

Monti, Pietro, 298. 
Montolmo, 18, 27. 
Monza, 51, 55 **7 240. 
Moretto, Cristoforo, 276. 
Morone, Bartolomeo, 213. 

Girolamo, 183, 212, 213, 218, 219, 226-35, 286. 

Mortara, 141 182. 

NANCY, Battle of (1477)1 102, 197. 

Naples, Succession Wars in, 6-9; Francesco Sforza's career in, u, 12 ; Sfowa's 
championship of Angevin cause in, 21, 22, 25 ; Milanese alliance with, 
71-76; Piccinino's murder in, 78, 79; breach with Florence, 118, 119; 
Lodovico's friendly relations with, 126 ; Barons' War in, 132, 133 ; 
Charles VIII. *s expedition to, 144-56, 158; conquest of, by Louis XII., 
173, 189, 191, 225 ; other references, 16, 27, 29, 65, 67, 68, 100, 102, 138, 
231, 234, 239, 297, 316. 

Kings of. See Anjou-Durazzo and Aragon. 

Navarra, Pedro, 216, 218. 

Nicholas V., Pope (Tommaso Parentucelli), 70, 

Novara, 23, 39, 48, 92, 156-58, l6 9, I 74 181-84, 198, 199, 209, 234, 272, 319, 

Novi, Paola da, 192, 

OPFIDA, Baldassare da, 19, 20. 

Oggiono, Marco d', 285, 

Olgiati, Girolamo, 112, 113. 

Orleans, House of, claims to Milan, 22, 35, 68, 71, 74, 143, 150, 170, 

Charles, Duke of, 35, 72. 

Louis, Duke of. Se0 France, Louis XIL, King of. 

Orsi, Cecco, 135 ; Lodovico, 135. 
Orsini, Niccold, 133 1 Virginio, 133, H& 

INDEX 345 

Osimo, 18, 28. 

Ossona, Giovanni, 50, 52, 65. 

PACIOLI, Luca, 138, 297, 

Palice, La, 203, 207, 216, 232. 

Pallavicino, Niccolo, 83, 123.^ 

Panigale, Boldrino da, 3, 

Parma, 7, 12, 40, 53, 83, 108, 127, 129, 151, 156, 177, 207, 216, 226, 227, 318. 

Parrasio, Aulo Giano, 295. 

Pasolini, Count, 5. 

Martino, 4. 

Paul II., Pope (Pietro Barbo), 99, 101. 

III., Pope (Alessandro Farnese), 313. 

Paullo, Ambrogio da, 168, 194, 250. 

Pavia, Francesco Sforza's acquisition of, 41, 42, 48; Gian Galeazzo's death 
at, 151-53 ; Louis XII.'s visit to, 189 ; opens gates to Swiss, 203, 204; 
battle of (1525), 231-34, 238, 240, 241 ; other references, 13* 39> 57 6 4> 
65, 69, 77, 81, 84, 101, 106, 107, 167, 175, 176, 219, 227, 277, 288. 

Castello of, 41, 42, 54, 85, 139, 189, 258, 259, 274, 275. 

Cathedral of, 268, 269 ; Certosa of, 189, 251-58, 268, 269, 275, 287, 288. 

University of, 189, 291, 298, 299. 

Pazzi, Conspiracy and war (1478), 118-20, 126, 134, 

Perugia, 2, 6, 9, 118. 

Perugino, Pietro, 287. 

Pesaro, 28, 30, 186 ; Lords of. See Sforza. 

Pescara, Francesco d'Avalos, Marquis of, 231, 232, 234, 235. 

Petrarch, 291, 297, 300. 

Petrocini, Elisa, 4. 

Piacenza, 12, 23, 39, 42, 44, 48, 54, 56, 82, 84, 106, 108, 152, 177, 216, 217, 226, 

227, 238, 267. 
Piazza, Bertino, 287. 

Piccinino, Francesco, 20, 21, 27, 40, 43, 46, 55, 57. 
Jacopo, 40, 43, 46, 55, 57, 76, 78, 79. 

Niccold, 3, 14, 19, 20, 23, 27, 28, 79. 

Pierre Encise, Castle of, 183* 
Pietrasanta, 134, 154. 

Pisa, 7, 118, 120, 154, 160, 161, 172, 201, 

Pius II., Pope (^Bneas Sylvius Piccolomini), 51, 73, 8r, 87, 90, 95, 125, 266, 

III., Pope (Francesco Piccolomini), igr. 

IV., Pope (Giovanni Angelo dei Medici), 317. 

Poland, Sigismund, King of, 313. 

Poliziano, Angelo, 295, 298. 

Ponchei?, Etienne, 302. 

Pontremoli, 24, 29, 152 ; Pier Francesco da, 184, 

Portinari, Pigello, 268, 274. 

Prato, G. A., 211, 212, 217, 222. 

Predis, Cristoforo de, 277 ; Ambrogio de, 277, 283, 285-87. 


Public Weal, League of (1465), 78-80. 
Pusterla, Pietro, 65, 121, 122, 237. 

QUIRINI, Andrea, 44 45. 

RADETZKY, Marshal, 325. 

Ravenna, Battle of (1512), 202, 216. 

Recanati, 18, 28. 

Regglo, 128, 226. 

Requesens, Louis de, 317. 

Rho, Pietro da, 271. 

RIario, Girolamo, 101, X28, 132, 135. 

^ Ottaviano, 135; Pietro, Cardinal, 101. 

Rimini, 26, 99, 129 ; Lords of. See Malatesta. 
Roccacontrada, Battle of (i445)> 2 9- 
Rodari, Giacomo, 271 ; Tommaso, 271. 
Romano, Gian Cristoforo, 257. 

Rome, i, 7, 8, 12, 18, 62, 65, 70, 108, 113, 129, 132, 154, 155, 190, 191, 193, 202, 
246, 271, 292, 299, 317, 322. 

Sack of (1527), 236-39. 

Rossi, Beltramo, 129; Guido, 129; Pietro Maria, 83, 127-29. 
Roverej Francesco Maria della, Duke of TJrbino, 235, 236. 

Giuliano della. See Pope Julius II. 

Rovigo, Polesina of, 128, 131. 

Ruffa, Polissena, n, 116. 

Rupert III., King of the Romans, 7 

SABADINO, Giovanni, 25. 

Saint Pol, Francois de Bourbon, Count of, 239. 

Salai, Andrea, 285. 

Saluzzo, 143, I54 *7*> r 7 s - 

San Severino, Francesco, Count of Caiazzo, 133, *34> *43> K5 1 . I 5 6 *57- 

Galeazzo, 133, X35 138, X39 ^43* 146. 150, 156, 162, 174-7?. *8i, 182, 186, 

224, 232, 286. 

Luigi, 23. 

Roberto, 54, 98, 117, 119, 120, 123, 127-33. 

Santa Fiora, Counts of. See Sforza. 

Saronno, 288. 

Sarzana, 133, 134. 

Saverges, Pierre de, 180. 

Savona, 74, 75, 93, 134, 192, 199* 3 74 

Savoy, Amadeus VIII., Duke of, 53, 54; Amadeus IX,, Duke of, 96. 

Bona of, Duchess of Milan, 77, 80, 95, 96, 100, 106, 107, 109, 1:14-16, 

119-24, 130, 131, 136, 149, 152, 259, 263, 276, 277. 

Charles Albert of, King of Sardinia, 324, 325. 

Charles Emmanuel III. of, King of Sardinia, 3x8, 319. 

Eugene of, Prince, 315, 318. 

Louis, Duke of, 53, 54, 57, 

INDEX 347 

Savoy, Maria of, Duchess of Milan, 36, 53, 58, 95. 

Philibert I., Duke of, 96, 102, 148 ; Philibert IL, Duke of, 178. 

Victor Amadeus II. of, King of Sardinia, 319, 

Victor Amadeus III. ofj King of Sardinia, 321. 

Victor Emmanuel II. of, King of Italy, 325. 

Schinner, Matthias, Cardinal and Archbishop of Sion, 200-4, 206-7, 209, 210, 

. 212, 217, 218, 220, 226. 
Scozioli, Filippo, 261. 
Senlis, Treaty of (1493), 147. 
Sesto, Cesare da, 285. 
Sforza (Muzio Attendolo, nicknamed Sforza), 1-12, 288. 

Alessandro, Lord of Pesaro, u, 21, 23, 28, 30, 53, 65, 74, 75, 78, 85, 103. 

Alessandro, illegitimate son of Galeazzo Maria, 203. 

Ascanio, Cardinal, 85, 89, 116, 118, 122, 144, 147, 167, 173, 174, 177, 

181-83, 185, 191, 192, 288. 

Battista, Duchess of Urbino, 85. 

Bianca Maria, Queen of the Romans, 96, 148, 149, i86,i 204, 281, 283, 


- Bianca, illegitimate daughter of II Moro, 162, 286. 
Bona, Queen of Poland, 76, 216, 313. 

Bosio, Count of Santa Fiora, n, 313. 

Camilla, wife of Costanzo, Lord of Pesaro, 164, 177, 180. 

Caterina, Lady of Forli, 5, 101, 109, 135, 173, 186. 

Cesare, illegitimate son of II Moro, 310. 

Costanzo, Lord of Pesaro, 127-29, 164. 

Drusiana, illegitimate daughter of Francesco I., 78. 

Elisabetta, daughter of Francesco I., 85. 

Ermes, son of Galeazzo Maria, 138, 175, 185. 

Filippo, son of Francesco I., 71, 85, 112, 116, 117, 123, 126. 

Francesco I., Duke of Milan, birth at S. Miniato, 6, 7 ; early life, 

II ; victory at Aquila, 12; condottiere of Filippo Maria Visconti, 14, 15 ; 
wins March of Ancona, 16-18 ; visit to Florence, 19 ; prepares for wed- 
ding, 21 ; deceived by Visconti, 22 ; arbiter between Milan and Venice, 
23 ; marriage, 24, 25 ; relations with Sigismondo Malatesta and Federico 
da Montefeltro, 26-29 ; sells Jesi to Papacy, 30 ; rule in March, 31-34 ; 
enters service of Ambrosian Republic, 40 ; gains Pavia, 41, 42 ; cam- 
paign of 1448, 43-46 j alliance with Venice, 47, 48 ; siege of Milan, 
53-57 ; received in Milan as duke, 59, 60 ; capitulations, 63, 64 ; corona- 
tion, 65 ; builds Castello, 66 ; last war with Venice, 67-70 ; formation 
of Triple Alliance, 71-74 ; acquisition of Genoa, 75, 76 ; stains upon 
reputation, 76-79; internal government, 80-85; domestic life, 85-88; 
death and character, 89-91 ; compared with Lodovico, 125, 184 j as 
patron of architecture, 251, 252, 254, 255, 258-62, 265-68 ; as patron of 
art, 273-77 ; equestrian statue of, 280, 281 ; patron of letters, 290-95 ; 
other references, x, 2, 4, 93, 97, 103, in, 116, 122, 127, 136, 247-49, 
298, 301, 307, 324. 

Francesco II., Duke of Milan, childhood, 162, 164 ; flight to Germany, 

177, 186, 204, 205 ; serious disposition, 212 ; excites brother's jealousy, 
3x4 ; return to exile, 218 ; obtains Milan with Imperial support, 225-27 ; 


rule, 228, 229 ; attempt on life, 230 ; abandons Milan, 231 ; involved in 
Morone conspiracy, 233-35 5 besieged in Milan, 235-37; joins League 
of Cognac, 236-38; reconciled with Charles V., 239, 240; last years in 
Milan, 241-43 ; marriage, 244, 245 ; death and character, 245, 246 ; por- 
traits of, 279, 288 ; other references, 3, 248* 251, 289, 309, 310. 3*2-14, 3*8. 

Sforza, Francesco, II Duchetto, 140, 152, 185. 

Gabriele, Archbishop of Milan, n, 80, 267. 

Galeazzo Maria, Duke of Milan, birth, 27 ; made Count of Pavia, 65 ; 

betrothal, 71, 77, 78 ; expedition to France, 79, 80, 85, 86 ; letter of 
advice from father, 87, 88; succeeds Francesco I. as Duke, 92-94; 
character, 94, 955 marriage, 9 5 96; breach with mother, 97; share in 
Colleonic and Malatesta wars, 98, 99; visit to Florence, 100, 101 ; 
campaign against Burgundy, 102 ; internal government, 102-6 ; court 
life, 107-9; immorality, 109-11; murder, 111-14; as patron of archi- 
tecture, 256, 259, 263, 269, 272 ; as patron of art, 275* 277, 280; other 
references, 89, 117* 4 125, 203, 248, 255. 

Gian Galeazzo, Duke of Milan, birth, 100 ; succeeds Galeazzo Maria as 

Duke, 115, 116,; invested with Genoa, 119, i34i *42; mother's guardian- 
ship exchanged for that of uncle, 121-24 ; betrothal, 126 ; plot for 
restoration to power, 130, 131 5 constitutional changes under, 136, 137; 
wedding, 137, 138 ; state of tutelage, 140, 145 J illness and death, 151, 
152; was he poisoned? 153, 154; other references, 159, x68, 248, 264, 
268, 313. 

, Gian Paolo, Marquis of Caravaggio, 163, 310, 313* 

. Giovanni, son of Sforza, n, 21. 

. ^ . Maria, Archbishop of Genoa, 203. 

. . Lord of Pesaro, 186. 

. Ippolita, Duchess of Calabria, 71, 73* 79 85, 86, tox. 
. wife of Alessandro Bentivoglio, 288, 302. 

Leone, son of Sforza, n. 
, Lodovico, Maria, Duke of Milan, childhood, 85, 86 ; attempt to overthrow 
Simonetta's government, 116-18 ; succeeds brother as Duke of Ban, 
120 ; assumes power in Milan, 121-24 ; early life of, 124, 125 ; friendship 
with Naples, 126 ; internal troubles, 127 ; share in War of Ferrara and 
Barons' War, 128-33 ; relations with Florence and Genoa, 134 ; affec- 
tion for Galeazzo San Severino, 135 ; methods of government, 136, 137 ; 
love of genius, 138 ; wedding and letters about wife, 139, 140 >" relations 
with France, 142-44 ; breach with Naples, 145-47 \ obtains Imperialin- 
vestiture, 148, 149 ; receives Charles VIII. at Asti, 151 ; proclaimed 
Duke of Milan, 152 ; responsibility for nephew's death, 3:53, 154 ; forms 
League of Venice, 155-58 ; prosperity of, 159 5 relations with Maxi- 
milian, 160-62; beginning of troubles, 162, 163; care for children, 164; 
economic reforms, 165-67 ; loss of popularity, 168, 169 ; preparations for 
war with Louis XII., I7o t 75 ; flight from Milan, 176, 177 ; fortunes in 
Germany, 179, 180 ; return to Milan, 181 ; final overthrow, 182, 183 ; 
imprisonment in France, death and character, 183-85 ; relations with 
Swiss, 196-98 ; patron of architecture, 252, 253, 256-58, 264, 265, 268-72 ; 
patron of ait, 273, 275, 279-87 ; patron of letters, 290, 295-303 ; other 
references, 91, 96, 107, m, 204, 248, 250, 307-10, 325, 

INDEX 349 

Sforza, Massimiliano, Duke of Milan, birth of, 140; name changed, 162; 
childhood, 164, 177, 186 ; restored to Milan by Swiss, 196, 203 ; 
character, 204, 205 ; eagerness to see him in Milan, 205, 206 ; made 
Duke by Holy League, 206-8 ; position threatened by French, 208, 
209 ; relations with Swiss, 210, 211 ; extravagance, 212, 213 ; privileges 
granted to Milan, 214, 215 ; marriage schemes, 216 ; interference in 
Genoa, 217 ; final bid for popularity, 218 ; interview with Francis I., 
219 ; after-life, 220 ; portraits of, 279, 287, 288 ; other references, 31, 
225, 233, 234, 243, 248, 308-10. 

Muzio, Marquis of Caravaggio, 313. 

Ottaviano, son of Francesco 1., 85, 112, 116, 117. 

Bishop of Lodi, 204, 2x3, 214. 

Polissena, illegitimate daughter of Francesco L, 26. 

Sforza, Duke of Bari, 71, 76, 85, in, 116-18, 120, 126. 

Count of Santa Fiora, 313. 

Tristano, illegitimate son of Francesco L, 96, 121, 297. 

Siena, 65, 79, 285 ; Girolamo da, 229. 

Simonetta, Angelo, 116. 

Cecco, 81, 103, 115-22, 126, 136, 247, 259, 295. 

Giovanni, 65 note, 112, 116, 122, 125, 301, 

Sixtus IV., Pope (Francesco della Rovere), 101, 113-15, 1x8, 119, 138, 130-32, 

Sodoma (Giovanni Antonio Bazzi), 285. 

Solari, Andrea, 285-87. 

Cristoforo (U Gobbo), 163, 253, 258, 270, 286. 

Giovanni, 252; Guinforte, 252, 254-^6, 259, 266, 272. 

Solieri, Prof. Gaetano, 3, 5. 

Spain, Domination of, in Milan, 314-18. 

. Ferdinand, the Catholic King of. See Aragon. 

Philip II., King of, 313, 314, 316. 

Don Philip of, 319. 

Spanish Succession, War of, 318. 

Stampa, Giovanni, 58 ; Massimiliano, 241, 244, 314. 

Stanga, Marchesino, 160, 165, 282. 

Suvorov, Alexander Vassilivitch, Count of, 322. 

Swiss, The, 12, 102, 118, 120, 127, 134, 135, 158, 171, 180, 182, 183 ; relations 
with Milan and France, 196-99 ; breach with Louis XII., 200-2 ; restoration 
of Massimiliano Sforza, 202-6 ; quarrels with Holy League, 207, 208 ; victory 
at Ariotta, 209-11 ; career in Milan, 211-14 ; defeat at Marignano and its 
results, 216-18, 220, 221, 224-26, 

Symonds, John Addington, 296. 

TACCONE, Baldassare, 281. 

Tanzio, Francesco, 299, 

Tassino, Antonio, 121-23 ; Gabriele, 123. 

Taverna, Chancellor of Milan, 3 14. 

Tela, Della, House of, in Milan, 288. 

Terranuova, Duke of, Governor of Milan, 316, 317. 


Teruffino, Giovanni, 57 ; Jacopo, 137. 

Terzana, Lucia, 6, n. 

Terzo, Ottobuono, Lord of Parma, 7. 

Tolentino, 28, 34; S. Niccolo of, 267. 

Torello, Guido, 12, 14 ; Marsiglio, 120. 

Tortona, 23, 43, 48, 55, 56, 77, 83, 120, 138, 175, 312, 325. 

Toscano, Galeotto, 53. 

Tr&nouille, La, 151, 182, 209, 211, 232. 

Triple Alliance, the, 71-74, 79* 9 98-101, 118, 126, 128-30, 142, 144, 145, 249. 

Trivulzio, Ambrogio, 52, 60 ; Antonio, 37, 40, 52, 65. 

Erasmo, 46, 52, 65, 177 ; Francesco, 58, 179. 

Gian Giacomo, 118, 133, *35 *45> *57, 160, 170, 171, 175-78, 180-83, 186, 

189, 195, 209, 216, 218, 224. 
Troya, Battle of (1462), 75. 
Turin, 54, 92, 324. 

URBINO, Ducal Palace of, 26 ; Dukes of. See Delia Rovere and Montefeltro. 

VAILATI, Antonio, report on Duchy of Milan (1461), 82-84. 

Valagussa, poet, 86. 

Valla, Lorenzo, 291. 

Vaprio, Constantino da, 276, 

Varallo, 288, 289. 

Varano, Costanza, 28, 30 ; Rodolfo, 28, 34, 

Vaude"mont, Prince of, Governor of Milan, 315. 

Venice, wars with Visconti, 13-15, iB, 21, 23, 24, 29, 33; war with Ambrosian 
Republic, 37, 39, 41-47, 53, 55. 56 ; alliance with Ambrosian Republic, 56, 
57; war with Francesco Sforza, 67-70; Sforza's house in, 72; wars with 
Triple Alliance, 98, 99 ; league with Milan and Florence, 102, 118 ; war with 
Ferrara, 128-33 ; Beatrice d'Este's visit to, 146-48 ; League of (1495)1 *55-6i J 
alliance with Louis XIL, 172, 173, 177; jealousy of Italian States towards, 
193, 194; war with League of Cambrai, 199-203; quarrel with Swiss, 207; 
alliance with France, 208, 210, 217, 218; alliance with Francesco Sforza 
II., 229, 233, 235; other references, 36, 61, 64, 77, 83, 86, 93, 126, 127, 191, 
273, 286, 292, 304, 323. 

Vercelli, 35, 95, 96, 122, 288, 289 ; peace of (1495), *5%> W 1 7- 

Verme, Luigi dal, 23, 54. 

Verona, 40, 203, 208, 216, 217, 227, 273. 

Verri, Gabriele, 319; Pietro, 315, 320. 

Via JEmilia, 13, 67, 99, 151. 

Vicar and Twelve of Provision. See Milan, Constitution of, 

Vicenza, 199, 208, 210. 

Vienna, Congress of (1814), 322. 

Vigevano, 48, 55, 85, 94, 162, 165-67, 186, 188, 212, 238, 272, 319. 

Villafranca, Battle of (1515), 217; treaty of (1859), 325, 

Vimercate, 59, 63, 64. 

Gaspare da, 53, 58-60, 63, 65, 76, 79, 81, 92, 95, 270. 

~ Luigi da, 130, 


Vinci, Leonardo da, 138, 139, 163, 166, 167, 252, 264, 268, 273, 275, 278-87, 
296-98, 302. 

Visconti, Azzo, Lord of Milan, 301. 

Bernabo, Lord of Milan, i, 34, 265. 

Bianca Maria, Duchess of Milan, betrothal to Francesco Sforza, 15; 

marriage, 21-25 J defence of Cremona, 45 ; education of children, 
84-89 ; breach with son, 96 ; death, 97, 98 ; other references, 26, 27, 30, 
63, 64, 69, 78, 91, 93, 95, 109, 124, 247, 266-68, 277, 295. 

Bonifazio, 230. 

. Carlo, 112, 113. 

Caterina, Duchess of Milan, 253. 

Filippo Maria, Duke of Milan, 12-15, *8, 20-25, 2 7> 2 9> 3Q> 35*37 63, 70, 

81, 91, 149, 169, 197, 247. 
Francesco Bernardino, 179, 237. 

Galeazzo II., Lord of Milan, i, 258. 

Galeazzo, 180. 

Gaspare, 296, 297, 300. 

Gian Galeazzo, Duke of Milan, 2, 6, 7, 13, 136, 149, 159, 160, 188, 197, 

249, 251-54, 257, 274, 308. 

Sacrornoro, 209. 

Valentina, Duchess of Orleans, 35, 143, 170, 214. 

Vitelleschi, Giovanni, Cardinal, 17, 18.